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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
Peanut Butter Pumpkin Dip

A Taste of Pumpkin

Last night was the first time this fall that I seriously contemplated turning on the furnace. Instead, I put on a pair of socks, sweatpants, and my favorite Illini hoodie and covered myself in a warm blanket. Fall is my favorite season, and it's not just because the trees are starting to turn colors (gorgeous!) and the football games are being played (Go Illini!), but because fall foods and festivals are simply the best.

This weekend is Morton, Illinois' annual Pumpkin Festival where you can indulge in pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin chili, pumpkin ice cream and much more. It reminds me of all the wonderful things you can do with pumpkin, besides the age-old pumpkin pie!

We don't always think of pumpkin as being healthy, probably because we normally have it as a scrumptious dessert, but it's loaded with the powerful antioxidant, beta carotene. Diets rich in beta carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, and offer protection against heart disease.

Learn more about how to grow pumpkins, their nutrition, and history at University of Illinois Extension's Pumpkins and More website. You'll also find a lot of great recipes. A lot of people ask me what to do with leftover pumpkin that they didn't use in a recipe. Try mixing about ¼ cup of pumpkin in your cup of oatmeal and then add, 2 packets of sugar substitute, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and raisins. Yum! Or mix pumpkin along with a little honey and cinnamon into Greek yogurt for a delicious snack. Here is one of my favorite pumpkin recipes, and if you like peanut butter, you must try it!

Just one question before you start your pumpkin madness in the kitchen: Do you think pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable? Hmmm.....

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dip (Printable PDF)


¾ cup canned pumpkin

¾ cup peanut butter

1-4 Tablespoons brown sugar, to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Mix peanut butter and brown sugar.

2. Add vanilla and pumpkin and stir until well blended.

3. Spread it on graham crackers, apple slices, celery sticks, bread, etc. Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator.

(Yields 20 servings, 2 Tablespoons)

Nutrient analysis per 2 Tablespoon serving: 70 Calories, 5 grams fat, 4 grams total carbohydrate, 45 milligrams sodium, 3 grams protein, 1 gram fiber

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