5 Uses for Pumpkin

Vegan pumpkin recipes for your carving leftovers

We had so much fun last Halloween experimenting with pumpkin recipes, so this year we wanted to share with you the many uses for pumpkin. If you’re carving pumpkins with your family, hold on to that pumpkin flesh for these exciting recipe ideas. All 5 shown are vegan pumpkin recipes and we also focus on the interesting health benefits of eating pumpkin too.

At this time of year, many households in the U.K. buy at least one pumpkin to decorate for Halloween. Pumpkins are great fun to carve, they look spooky lit up with candles and they create a cool family activity for everyone in October.

Uses for pumpkin over Halloween with The Natural Essex Girl

 

It’s estimated that around £25 million was spent on pumpkins for carving in the U.K. for Halloween 2017, according to this article by Noi Rotstein: The Pumpkin Pile is Plumping Up.

But what should you do with all that pumpkin flesh after you’ve carved it? Many hoseholds in the U.K. throw it away, perhaps thinking that the flesh is no good for eating. That’s roughly 18,000 tons of pumpkin wasted every year, simply due to a holiday tradition. Phillip Simpson writes “… that’s the equivalent weight of 1,500 double decker buses, or enough to make a bowl of soup for every person in the UK.” Read more of his article, Pumpkin waste is the biggest scare this Halloween, and be inspired to change your Halloween habits.

This month, we want to look at the alternative uses for pumpkin. You’ve already paid for all that yummy pumpkin flesh so use it in your cooking. First though, do you know the health benefits of cooking with pumpkins?

5 Uses of Pumpkin with The Natural Essex Girl

Pumpkin Benefits

Pumpkins are loaded with potassium, fibre, vitamin C, vitamin A and iron. Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, a strong immune system and good eyesight. Potassium is good for treating high blood pressure and supports hearth health. Basically, pumpkins are an incredible food source, if not a superfood. So throwing all that pumpkin flesh in the bin is unnecessary, arguably even madness, not to mention a huge waste.

But what can you do with all that pumpkin? After all, carving a family of pumpkins creates a lot of pumpkin flesh. Understandably, you might not want to eat pumpkin soup every day for weeks on end. Don’t worry, we’ve trialled plenty of fun and exciting pumpkin recipes and compiled our favourite 5 for you to try this October.

5 Uses for Pumpkin

These 5 vegan pumpkin recipes are full of a variety of nutrients to keep you well during the colder Autumn weather. We’ve covered everything from the traditional pumpkin soup with a great twist, to a firm family favourite with a pumpkin pasta bake. We’ve even found an indulgent chocolate chip cookie recipe too.

1. Pumpkin and Black Bean Chilli

Vegan Pumpkin and Black Bean Chilli Pumpkin and Black Bean Chilli ingredients with The Natural Essex Girl

This is a super easy recipe with limited washing up, that’s also great for anyone who finds pumpkin a little bland. Enjoy this Pumpkin and Black Bean Chilli poured over rice or choose jacket potatoes if you are feeling lazy and want one less pan to clean.

Ingredients

This dish is packed with nutritious ingredients; from the black beans to the cumin seeds, the chilli to the pumpkin. We love our Pumpkin and Black Bean Chilli poured over a jacket potato at this time of year, but this also works beautifully over fluffy rice. Topping your chilli with coriander and lime compliments the heat of this dish perfectly. Find all the ingredients you will need for this recipe here.

How To …

This chilli is a throw-it-together kind of meal. We often choose jacket potatoes because they can be left to bake without any supervision. We are huge fans of chilli because it can all be cooked in the one pan, saving us the hassle of extra dishes. Adjust the quantities of chilli to your personal heat tolerance, or increase the heat a little if you are feeling under the weather. Find the full recipe and cooking instructions here.

Great For …

This recipe is best for anyone who thinks pumpkin is plain and a little boring in flavour. The chilli seasoning gives the pumpkin a nice warm spice and the whole dish is so comforting on a dark October evening. Plus, Pumpkin & Black Bean Chilli is a one pan dish when it’s poured over jacket potatoes.

2. Curried Peanut Pumpkin Soup

Uses for pumpkin this Halloween with The Natural Essex Girl Vegan Pumpkin Soup on the Natural Essex Girl

Pumpkin soup is perhaps the most common use of pumpkin. When we were searching for the best vegan pumpkin recipes to share with you, it was certainly something that most people suggested. This amazing soup by food blogger Dianne at Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen is an exciting twist on a common and well-used dish.

Ingredients

This recipe has some very interesting additions to the more traditional pumpkin soup, including vegan peanut butter. This makes your soup deliciously creamy, and if you use a crunchy peanut butter option, it also creates a beautiful bite too. Find all the ingredients you will need for this recipe here.

How To …

Soups are best left simmering for a while to really infuse the ingredients and create the best flavour. So this isn’t a recipe you make in a rush. Allow time for this dish to sit so that your vegetables go tender and soft. Pick a day when you are not rushed to create homemade soup, and preferably a day when you can be near the kitchen to enjoy the wonderful smell too. Find the full recipe and cooking instructions here.

Great For …

Our favourite thing about creating this soup is the incredible aroma that fills the kitchen as it simmers away. We made this on a miserably wet Autumn day and it literally warmed us up from the inside out. This soup is great for people who love curries, especially creamy curries with a subtle warmth. Our Top Tip for making Curried Peanut Pumpkin Soup is to add freshly baked bread to soak up all that yummy creamy nutty goodness.

3. Pumpkin Pasta Bake

5 Uses for Pumpkin with The Natural Essex Girl 5 Uses for Pumpkin with The Natural Essex Girl

We created this pasta bake recipe last year when we had so much left over pumpkin flesh and it was a family hit! It’s super easy to throw together and can be left to bake whilst your busy taking photos of your pumpkins, or trick or treating not too far from home.

Ingredients

This recipe contains a deliciously creamy sauce that makes a refreshing change from a tomato-based pasta bake. The crushed cashews on top give it a delicious crunch and the added vegetables make it extra nutritious. Find all the ingredients you will need for this recipe in our Pumpkin Pasta Bake Recipe (coming soon).

How To …

Making this pasta bake is simple. Once prepped, the dish can be left to cook and the one oven dish means there is very little clearing up. You will need a blender for the sauce and it’s super important to make sure this covers all the ingredients, especially the pasta. We’ll be sharing the full recipe and cooking instructions with you later this week, so make sure you’re subscribed to The Natural Essex Girl (look out for the Subscribe box at the bottom of this page).

Great For …

This recipe is great for getting nutrition into fussy eaters because you can ‘hide’ vegetables in the pumpkin sauce blend, if you want to. This is also a dish that is great for busy evenings. Simply throw it all in the one dish and leave it to bake.

4. Roasted Pumpkin Spice and Garlic Hummus

Vegan Hummus recipes on The Natural essex Girl Plant based ingredients on The Natural Essex Girl 

All that leftover pumpkin flesh doesn’t only have to be used in hot meals. We were over the moon to discover this delicious hummus recipe by vegan food blogger Jagruti at Jagruti’s Cooking Odyssey. Hummus is one of our go-to lunch options, with toasted pittas, carrots and pepper sticks. At colder times of year, hummus can still hit the spot, especially with the addition of roasted pumpkin and garlic.

Ingredients

This vegan recipe is a great variation from more common hummus flavours found in the shops. The smell of the pumpkin and garlic roasting is divine and had us very excited to try this hummus. We recommend you add a little paprika if you like a slightly warmer spice to your hummus. Find all the ingredients you will need for this recipe here.

How To …

Making your own hummus might seem like a lot of hassle but actually, with the right blender, it’s super easy. More importantly, the difference in taste is undeniable. We keep washed out plastic hummus pots from the supermarket, so re-used a couple for this homemade hummus. Find the full recipe and cooking instructions here.

Great For …

This recipe is an ideal addition to a Halloween-themed party. Not only is it full of delicious pumpkin and a great snack food, it is also a healthier option for parties than most baked goods or sweet treats available at this time of year. This hummus is full of fresh flavour and garlic. Our Top Tip for making Roasted Pumpkin Spice and Garlic Hummus is to add a little extra paprika to spice the flavour up.

5. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Uses for pumpkin on The Natural Essex Girl Freshly baked vegan cookies on The Natural Essex Girl

When we were searching for the best pumpkin recipes to share with you, we wanted to find a sweet recipe to show the versatility of pumpkins. This amazing recipe by vegan food blogger Tania at Who Needs Salad is a really fun one to get stuck into, mainly because there’s an indulgent cookie dough bowl to lick clean!

Ingredients

This vegan recipe includes some very interesting substitutes to more mainstream baking ingredients, including vegan butter, vegan chocolate chips and aquafaba instead of eggs. Aquafaba may sound like this recipe just got complicated, but don’t be put off. It’s simply legume water and we used the water from a can of cooked chickpeas we had in our cupboard which worked like a dream. Find all the ingredients you will need for this recipe here.

How To …

This was the first time we had attempted a vegan cookie recipe and I must confess, it was super easy to source the alternative ingredients, follow Tania’s instructions and create these delicious cookies. Plus, it was way more fun to eat than the savoury dishes. Find the full recipe and cooking instructions here.

Great For …

This recipe is ideal for baking fun with kiddies, vegans who are desperate to do some homemade baking and anyone who thinks pumpkins are for savoury dishes only. These cookies are indulgently chewy and gooey, as well as being perfectly spiced with some of our favourite holiday season  ingredients. Our Top Tip for making Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies … make a lot!

British pumpkins at The Natural Essex Girl

Where should you source your pumpkins?

Around the month of October, pumpkins are literally everywhere; supermarkets, farm shops and pumpkin patches. We recommend you source local and package-free pumpkins wherever possible, by visiting your local greengrocer or taking little ones to a nearby patch to pick their own. Locally gown pumpkins from local soil are arguably even better for you nutritionally and have not had to travel too far which reduces the carbon footprint of your food.

Another great way to enjoy pumpkins if you have access to a garden or allotment, is to grow them yourself. Growing food is a fun activity you can include the whole family in and with something as festive as pumpkins, the excitement can build through the year. This also means your pumpkins are fresh, local and contain no nasties. Growing food is a great way to know what is in the things you eat for yours and your family’s ultimate health.

We will be growing our very first pumpkins next year! Want to give it a go with us? Don’t miss the right time to plant your pumpkin seeds by enjoying our gardening tips published on The Natural Essex Girl Facebook page. Follow along and when the time is right, we will encourage you to start your pumpkins!

Can I freeze pumpkin?

Pumpkin flesh freezes really well so don’t worry, you don’t need to eat pumpkin everyday for a week after Halloween. Chop the flesh into chunks and freeze in meal size portions, making it easier to defrost and use. Once frozen, pumpkins are better in recipes like soup and chilli where it doesn’t matter that your pumpkin is not quite as firm as it once was. In recipes like the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies above, it is super important to squeeze any excess water from your pumpkin flesh before you cook it.

Uses for pumpkin with The Natural Essex Girl

These are our top 5 uses for pumpkin, but of course there are many, many more options. If you have a great plant-based recipe including pumpkins that you love to use at this time of year, please share it with us on The Natural Essex Girl Facebook page so we can try it too. If you try one of these recipes, let us know how you get on and whether it is something you will enjoy again by leaving us a comment below.

Thank you for reading.

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5 thoughts on “5 Uses for Pumpkin”

    1. Our pleasure Jagruti. We really enjoyed throwing these together … and have just devoured the Pumpkin Pasta Bake for dinner! Thank you for working with us on this blog.

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