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Pumpkins aren’t just for porches or pies any more

Posted October 23, 2013 in Advice Column, Boone

Fall is by far my favorite season of the year with the roar of the crowd from football stadiums, the phenomenal fall colors and the air just crisp enough that you need long sleeves for a relaxing evening run. It’s also a great time to enjoy the fruits of fall, especially pumpkin.

Whether savory or sweet, you should consider adding this winter squash to your weekly meal plan. Canned pumpkin is high in fiber and low in calories; by adding pumpkin to a meal you can stay full longer, helping with weight-control. According to the USDA, canned pumpkin is nearly sodium free and is packed with Vitamin A and beta-carotene which aids in eye and heart health. Pumpkins, like bananas, are high in potassium to give you a burst of energy. Try roasted pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas. They can be found at most grocery stores, but you can make your own.  Pepitas can be used to top salads or as a protein packed afternoon snack.

Easy Pumpkin Chicken Chili
1 can pumpkin puree
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can black beans
1 can of corn
1 box fat-free chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1 16 oz. jar of salsa
½ of a rotisserie chicken (about 16 oz. without the skin and bones)
1 chipotle, chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons of brown sugar

De-skin and de-bone your rotisserie chicken. Shred about 1 pound of meat and place in a slow cooker. Add pumpkin puree, salsa, diced tomatoes, corn with liquid, garbanzo beans with liquid and drained but un-rinsed black beans to crock pot. Stir well. Add spices and brown sugar. Begin to stir in chicken broth, reserve about half the box. Set your slow cooker on high and let cook for 2 hours. Check for consistency of chili. If you prefer, add more chicken stock to the chili.

Remember, when cooking with canned pumpkin use pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling.

Information provided by Makala R. Brinkley, senior program director, Boone County Family YMCA, 608 Carroll St., Boone, 515-432-5925, www.dmymca.org.

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