Nifty ways to prep pumpkins and potatoes. Now is the perfect time to dig into a cornucopia of fruits and veggies that peak as the weather turns cool. Here, tasty ideas for enjoying this season’s top delicious bounty.
Odds are, you’re more familiar with carving one than cooking it. But pumpkin is an often-overlooked source of fiber: Just one cup of boiled, mashed, salted pumpkin contains about 3 g. This same amount can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer than 45 calories too. Be bold and experiment with a fresh pumpkin instead of using canned puree. And don’t discard those pumpkin seeds! They’re a naturally rich source of plant-based chemicals, phytosterols, shown in studies to reduce LDL cholesterol.
To use the fresh version, clean the skin with a brush, then cut the pumpkin in half. Use a serrated spoon to scrape out the fibers and seeds, and cut the halves into smaller pieces. Put them skin side up in a shallow baking dish. Cover the bottom of the dish with water, and seal the dish tightly. Bake at 325 F until the flesh is tender when you insert a fork (length of time will vary depending on how small you have cut the pieces). Once the pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and use it for pies, breads, pancakes and soup.
Packed with more vitamins A and C than their paler cousins, sweet potatoes are healthy and versatile. Bake them at 425 F for 40 to 60 minutes, or until they’re tender, and serve them with a touch of butter, brown sugar or cinnamon. (If you’re in a rush, they can also be heated in a microwave for about five minutes.)
To make fries, cut the potatoes into 0.25- or 0.5-inch strips, toss with olive oil and bake at 400 F for 20 to 30 minutes. Want to serve them glazed? Cover them with water, and simmer them in a large pot until tender. In a separate pan, melt butter, maple syrup and sugar together over low heat to create a glaze. Pour it over the cooked potatoes and serve. Enjoy!
Cathy Garrard is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health and travel. Her work has appeared in More, Prevention, Self, Glamour and USA Today, among others. She is based in Brooklyn, N.Y.