Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Butter

One of my favorite fall foods is pumpkin. Even though canned pumpkin puree is available all year, I rarely buy it except during this season. But once the weather changes and the leaves are falling, I can't get enough. Last fall when I was in Houston I made pumpkin biscotti, pumpkin oatmeal, and crustless pumpkin pie...all delicious and relatively healthy. This year I've already made pumpkin muffins and have several other pumpkin recipes saved in my "to make" folder: pumpkin dinner rolls, yeasted chocolate chip pumpkin bread, and pumpkin bread pudding...the muffins and rolls the healthy ones out of these.

Yesterday I made pumpkin butter...and guess what? There is no butter involved and it's fat-free. Just like apple butter (which is basically thickened apple sauce), pumpkin butter is sweetened and spiced pumpkin puree that has been simmered so that it gets thick and dark. It would be great on English muffins/toast/bagels or stirred into oatmeal for breakfast. For a snack, I stirred some into my Greek yogurt and loved it...very thick and creamy! I'm sure you could bake with it too...replace 1/2 of the fat in a recipe with the pumpkin butter (you can also do this with apple sauce and mashed bananas).

Pumpkin is fat-free and low-cal (1/2 cup = 40 calories). It's rich in beta-carotene, which can protect against heart disease and may reduce the risk of certain cancers. It is also a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber (5 g per 1/2 cup).

Pumpkin Butter
adapted from and

Makes about 1 1/2 cups (24 tablespoons)

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree, approx. 1 3/4 cups
6 tablespoons apple juice
1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Juice of half a lemon

Combine pumpkin, apple juice, sugar, and spices* in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently. Adjust spices to taste. Stir in lemon juice, or more to taste. Once cool, pumpkin butter can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

*1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice can be substituted for all of the spices.

Per tablespoon - 20 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 5 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 0 g protein

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