McGrody: The pumpkin craze done right

McGrody tells readers how to enjoy pumpkin treats, sans the calories.

Brianna McGrody

Brianna McGrodyIt seems as if every fall, people go completely bonkers about pumpkins.

When we think of pumpkin food or flavored beverages, we usually think of high-calorie desserts or drinks with a lot of carbs like pumpkin flavored beer. But pumpkin can be used in a number of different recipes that are both delicious and healthy.

Doesn’t pumpkin ice cream or a pumpkin smoothie sound awesome? Laura Martin, a sophomore sports management major, never considered the different options for using pumpkin.

“I love pumpkin-flavored things like coffee and bread but I never considered other options,” Martin said. “I think it is pretty cool so I’m going to tell my roommates about them and try them out.”

The pumpkin is healthy for a few reasons. Being a fruit that comes from the cucurbitaceous family, which includes different squashes and melons, the pumpkin is a great source of Vitamin C and dietary fiber. It is low in calories and contains a ton of minerals that benefit human health.

If the recipe calls for canned pumpkin, the health benefits are generally the same, so don’t worry if you’re not willing to cut up the actual fruit.

Pumpkin frozen yogurt

An extremely versatile use of pumpkins is pumpkin-flavored frozen yogurt. As found on, the recipe calls for:

1 can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups low-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

The recipe requires that all the ingredients be mixed together until smooth, refrigerated until chilled and then placed in the freezer until completely frozen. The recipe is not only quick and simple but is also a healthier pumpkin dessert as opposed to pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin bars

Another recipe I love is sort of like a pumpkin brownie. As found on, pumpkin bars are yet another healthier choice when it comes to pumpkin flavored desserts. This recipe calls for:

1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

It might seem like a lot of ingredients, but the recipe is pretty easy. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, combine the dry ingredients followed by the wet ingredients, mix everything and spread the batter into an oiled pan. Bake for 20 minutes and the outcome is bars that are perfect for the fall weather — and a healthy treat.

Pumpkin spice smoothie

If you love to drink pumpkin-flavored beverages in the fall, I suggest making your own pumpkin spice smoothie. As found on, the pumpkin spice smoothie is great for breakfast or even a daytime snack. The recipe includes:

1 cup nondairy milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 of a banana
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 a teaspoon ground ginger and pinched nutmeg and cloves

Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth and enjoy.

Canned pumpkin can be found at just about any grocery store and usually is priced around $3 or less. These three different recipes and the thousands of other pumpkin recipes online show just how flexible the pumpkin can be. In fact, it can even be a healthy treat.

If you’re a pumpkin addict and can’t get enough of your pumpkin fix this fall, try out these recipes, create your own or do a quick and easy search for more.

Brianna McGrody can be reached at

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