Pumpkin is Back!

It’s back to school time, but for me that means back to pumpkin time. How many of you love pumpkin? Raise those hands high. As the fall temperatures start to roll in, do you find yourself buying pumpkin spice lattes or craving pumpkin pie? Well, if you are like me; I just love the smell, flavor and color of pumpkin and let’s not forget pumpkin has many healthy components as well. Pumpkin is chock-full of vitamins and minerals, but low in calories. There are many creative ways pumpkin can be incorporated into meals, including salads, soups, preserves and even as a substitute for butter. Also, potassium contained within pumpkins can have a positive effect on your blood pressure. As if I needed more reasons to eat pumpkin, I choose to use it purely because it is so versatile and cheap.
So stepping out of my comfort zone a bit with you on this blog, I am going to use a recipe that incorporates a bit of bacon and cream cheese. Yikes! Here is my philosophy. I like to choose recipes that people will really enjoy because they are delicious, simple, but also have a few healthy components that make them a better choice than others. Let’s get real, many people like dip so why not provide a homemade, healthier way to enjoy this treat.
I chose this original savory pumpkin dip recipe from Gimme Some Oven. Remember that a recipe is similar to a road map. It is one way to “get there” so feel free to make changes like I did.

Savory Pumpkin Dip
8 oz. low fat cream cheese
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (can reduce to ¼ cup)
½ cup pumpkin puree (can increase to ¾ cup or more)
¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
4-6 slices of bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled (can use 2-3 slices of turkey bacon)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon of seasoned salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon (feel free to add more)

Bacon is not one of my “usual” ingredients. If your house is in any way similar to my house, bacon is a treat so when one of my sons smelled its aroma; three slices simply disappeared. However, two slices were still enough to give this dip a bit of flavor.

Toasting the pecans is a very simple way to enhance their flavor. It does mean another pan to wash but trust me, the smell of roasting these is worth the bit of effort.

Now you just need to mix the cream cheese, shredded cheese and pumpkin into a bowl. Then add the green onions, bacon, pecans, cinnamon and salt. Blend well.

I purchased some gluten-free pretzels to go with the dip. They were a treat for me as well. I have to warn you that this dip is rich so you want to limit the portion of it. Just because it has pumpkin in it doesn’t mean it is calorie free. I think it would be great for a fall party.


About the Author

Deb is a registered dietitian for Prevea Health’s LeadWell corporate health and wellness program, a role that allows her to share her commitment to healthful living. She graduated with her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point and completed her dietetic internship with Harper Hospital in Detroit. After graduation, Deb worked for area nursing homes until she joined HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center in 1999. Her understanding of the importance of good nutrition started when she was very young as she tried to help her father with his medical conditions. Her passion for wellness and nutrition continues as she helps people incorporate lifestyle changes into their everyday lives.