Fall Back & Pump-kin Up!

Pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin beer — from savory to sweet, the options are endless. It’s finally pumpkin season, and the reasons to celebrate are many.

Not only is fall’s signature squash versatile enough to fit into all the above and more, it also packs some powerful healthy perks — like keeping heart health, vision and waistlines in check, as long as you take it easy on the sweets, that is.

Below, are a few favorite health benefits of pumpkin.

1) Pumpkins Keep Eyesight Sharp
2) Pumpkins Aid Weight Loss
3) Pumpkin Seeds Can Help Your Heart
4) Pumpkins May Reduce Cancer Risk
5) Pumpkins Protect The Skin
6) Pumpkin Seeds Can Boost Your Mood
7) Pumpkins Can Help After A Hard Workout
8) Pumpkins Can Boost Your Immune System

http://dailyburn.com/life/health/pumpkin-health-benefits/

For a healthier way to add pumpkin into your diet, adding pumpkin chunks to a roasted vegetable medley, or sprinkling pumpkin seeds on top of your salad. You can also try pumpkin puree in place of nut butters as a spread. And for an energizing morning smoothie, blend a high-quality vanilla protein powder with coconut milk, chia seeds, pureed pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice.

Other than pumpkin seeds and pumpkin muffins, I’ve never been much of a pumpkin lover, but the recipes below and the health benefits have definitely sparked my interest and taste buds.  Although pumpkin-laced desserts decrease in the health benefits, these recipes look and sound too yummy to resist!  I can’t wait to try them all.  Because GraceFace is all about “trying to get it to healthy” a few substitutions have been made to lighten the calories and the sugar content.  If you have any other healthier alternatives to making these treats even lighter, please feel free to share with us!

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Pecan-Crusted Pork with Pumpkin Butter

1 (14 ounce) can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 pinch ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pecans
3/4 cup bread crumbs
4 (1/2 inch thick) boneless pork chops
1/4 cup oil for frying

Whisk together pumpkin puree, apple juice, sugar, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon in a saucepan until smooth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the mixture has reached the consistency of applesauce. About 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, pulse pecans and bread crumbs in a food processor until the pecans are finely chopped. Pour into a shallow dish, and press pork chops into the mixture to coat.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add breaded pork chops and cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve the pork chops with a dollop of pumpkin butter.

 

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Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Enchiladas

Yield: 9-12 servings

1 pkg. (8 oz.) low fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2½ cups Lite Cool Whip, thawed
18-24 Flour tortillas
6 tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
Caramel sauce

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gently stir in the whipped topping. Divide the cream cheese mixture evenly between the tortillas. Roll each tortilla up and put on serving plates. In a small bowl, combine the butter, sugar and cinnamon. Brush the mixture over the rolled tortillas. Top with caramel sauce.

 

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This recipe is fairly simple to make. If you’re looking for a great Fall recipe, be sure to give these Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Bars a try – you’ll be glad you did!

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Bars
Printable recipe
Yield: 18-24 bars

For the crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses

For the cheesecake layer:
1 pkg. (8 oz.) low fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2½ cups Lite Cool Whip, thawed

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-in. baking dish lightly with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine first 6 ingredients crust ingredients in a medium bowl; whisk to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar, shortening and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat until well blended. Add the flour mixture and mix just until blended.

Press the dough into the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gently stir in the whipped topping.

When the crust has cooled off, spoon the cream cheese mixture into crust. Level with an off-set spatula or the back of a spoon.

Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake bars in refrigerator.

 

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Decadent Pumpkin Muffins
Original recipe makes 24 muffins
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
4 egg whites
1 egg
2/3 cup water
1 cup raisins

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line two 12 cup muffin pans with paper muffin liners.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves. In a large bowl, beat together the pumpkin, white sugar, brown sugar, applesauce, yogurt, egg whites, and egg. Blend the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, alternating with the water, to form a smooth batter. Fold in the raisins. Transfer to the prepared muffin pan.
Bake 16 to 18 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.

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