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Natalie Brunell and Lauren Gold/MEDILL

How to make a quick and simple pumpkin hummus.

Fall for pumpkins

by Natalie Brunell and Lauren Gold
Nov 10, 2011


Natalie Brunell and Lauren Gold/MEDILL 

Pumpkin hummus is a delicious autumn spin on a healthy favorite.


Lauren Gold and Natalie Brunell/MEDILL

A cup of pumpkin seeds contains a high level of essential vitamins and nutrients.


Lauren Gold and Natalie Brunell/MEDILL

You can make any autumn dish healthier by substituting just a few key ingredients.

Natalie Brunell and Lauren Gold/MEDILL

Use your leftover pumpkin ingredients to make a skin-softening face mask at home.

5-Step Pumpkin Hummus


-2 cups of puréed pumpkin

-2 tablespoons of tahini

-juice of 1/2 lemon

-2 tablespoons finely-chopped parsley

-1 clove roughly-chopped garlic

-1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

-shake of cumin

-salt & pepper to taste



1. Put all the ingredients into a food processor.

2. Blend all the items until the hummus is creamy, adding olive oil in order to make it more smooth.

3. Once the hummus is blended, taste to make sure you are happy with the combination of ingredients.

4. Pour the hummus into a serving dish.

5. As an option, toast whole-wheat pita bread in the oven at 400 degrees for five minutes for a crunchy, low-fat snack to dip in the hummus and enjoy!


At-Home Pumpkin Facial


-2 tablespoons organic pumpkin

-1 teaspoon almond milk

-splash of cinnamon

-1/2 teaspoon of honey



1. Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl using a spoon until they form a paste.

2. Generously apply the mixture to a clean dry face, making sure to include the neck area.

3. Let the face mask dry for 15 to 20 minutes.  You may feel a slight tingling!

4. Wash the face mask off and gently pat your skin dry.

5. Tone and moisturize as usual and apply your make-up. Your pumpkin glow will last all day!

‘Tis the season for pumpkins. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin hummus are just a few options to tap into antioxidant health benefits.

“Pumpkin is a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food,” said Amy Jamieson-Petonic, registered dietitian with the American Dietetic Association and director of wellness coaching at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Pumpkin is a vine vegetable that is low in calories, yet full of nutritional boosters such as carotenes, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and fiber.

At just 49 calories per serving, one cup of cooked pumpkin boasts 2.7 grams of dietary fiber, more than is contained in a slice of whole-grain, whole-wheat bread. It has no cholesterol or saturated fats.

“You can tell automatically by the bright orange color that pumpkin has a high beta-carotene content,” she said. Once ingested, the body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A.

Vitamin A is important for normal growth, bone development, good vision and bolsters a strong immune system, Jamieson-Petonic said. It helps keep skin and mucus membrane cells healthy, too, which can help prevent cell damage.

Don’t forget about pumpkin seeds, either. They’re chock full of dietary fiber, which aids in gastrointestinal health, as well as cardiovascular wellness and helps prevent diabetes.

“Fiber slows the absorption of glucose, or sugar, into cells, which leads to more normal blood sugar levels and stabilizes energy levels,” she said.

Monica Auslander, a dietetics and nutrition master’s student at Florida International University, loves pumpkin products and cooks them all the time as a healthier option.

“It’s delicious, and it’s a really versatile product as far as baking and cooking,” she said. “You can substitute pumpkin for shortening,” she said. “It goes really well in soups and pastas, and it compliments butternut squash really well. I really enjoy the taste. Pumpkin spice is a very healthy product.”

Auslander suggests cooking with other alternatives such as applesauce, whole-wheat flour and dark chocolate. For the holiday time, she cooks with cinnamon, nutmeg, cranberries and any kind of winter squash.

Pumpkin seeds provide a range of other traditional nutrients, too.

“Our food ranking system qualified them as a very good source of the minerals magnesium, manganese and phosphorus, and a good source of iron, copper, protein, and zinc,” Jamieson-Petonic said. The zinc found in pumpkin seeds helps with bone mineral density related to osteoporosis and arthritis.

Munch on a quarter-cup of pumpkin seeds, and you’ll receive 46 percent of the daily dietary requirement for magnesium, almost 29 percent for iron, 52 percent for manganese, 24 percent for copper, almost 17 percent for protein and 17 percent for zinc.

Phytosterols, compounds found in pumpkin seeds, are believed to reduce blood levels of cholesterol, enhance the immune system response and decrease risk of certain cancers, she said. Pumpkin seeds are packed with 265 milligrams of phytosterols per 100 grams.

Pumpkin seed oil, dark green in color with a nutty flavor, is rich in beneficial fatty acids, anti-oxidants such as vitamin E and zeaxanthin, and other healthy compounds.

High-quality pumpkin seed oil is often used as a salad dressing mixed with fresh lemon juice or a good apple cider vinegar, Jamieson-Petonic said. It can also be used to add flavor and nutrition to soups, sauces and many other recipes.

“It’s so understated. [Pumpkin] is one of those great things,” she said. “There’s so much you can do with it.”

Jamieson-Petonic suggests switching out fattier ingredients in your recipes with healthier pumpkin options. For example, make pumpkin soup instead of a cream-based soup full of saturated fats, or add pumpkin puree to a baking recipe.

“I think that’s something that’s more livable and doable for people,” she said. “It’s just another good habit. We’re struggling with obesity and lifestyle-related diseases in our country. Small changes lead to big results.”

Pumpkin face treatments are also gaining popularity, such as the pumpkin spice facial offered at Salon Echo in Edgewater.

“The pumpkin spice facial is great for anti-aging, and the enzymes and vitamin A help to repair and nourish the skin,” said Jennifer Zayas, an aesthetician at Salon Echo.

The salon's one-hour facial helps dissolve dry, dull skin and makes the face more radiant, Zayas said.

“The pumpkin has antioxidants and gives you a youthful, glowing look,” she said. “A lot of people like pumpkin. It smells like you’re putting pumpkin pie on your face.”

The facial reminds people of the holiday season and is so popular that the salon decided to offer it year-round.