Halloween Nutrition Quick Tip

"There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin." – Linus van Pelt

Fresh pumpkin can be roasted and used in recipes, in place of canned pumpkin. But buyer beware, the devil is in the details. Check the Nutrition Facts label on the can so that you know what you're getting. Canned pumpkin products may be labeled as ‘pumpkin’ ‘100% pumpkin’ or ‘pumpkin pie filling’. The devil is found in the ‘Pumpkin pie filling’ product. This can be much higher in calories than regular canned pumpkin because of added ingredients, otherwise not found in plain, canned pumpkin. First thing that comes to mind when the calendar turns to October is ALL THINGS PUMPKIN… pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin doughnuts (check them out at The Southern), pumpkin beer…I think you get the picture. In my years living here I have found that Chicago, more than any other city I have lived, seems to have this pumpkin thing nailed down. I guess this may be influenced by our proximity to self-proclaimed “Pumpkin Capital” of the world – Morton, Illinois – home of Libby corporation’s pumpkin industry. OR it is simply that Chicagoans know that pumpkin can be a healthy addition to the fall table. This little orange squash (yes, it’s a squash) is an excellent source of vitamin A - a powerful antioxidant critical for eye health – and potassium & iron – both important nutrients in the athlete’s diet.

This season, embrace the great pumpkin and try it in your fall menu:

To purchase pumpkin for use in your cooking, look for the cute, small, and usually darker in color pumpkins at the market - labeled as ‘sugar pumpkins’. Roast it like you would a squash cut in half, remove seeds, butter meat of the fruit, sprinkle with nutmeg (optional), cover with foil, and roast until fork tender. Once cooked to tender, let cool, and measure as you would canned pumpkin.

If you use fresh pumpkin in your recipes, don't throw away the seeds. These can be baked for a wholesome, crispy snack packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and numerous health promoting antioxidants.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 Tbsp (fresh or canned) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice)

½ cup skim milk

2 tsp Splenda or Equal (add more or less to adjust sweetness)

½ cup (4 ounces) Water

1 tsp instant coffee (regular or decaf)


  • Heat water in microwave (below 130 degrees) then mix in instant coffee (as prepared above), milk, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and sweetener in blender.
  • Blend until combined (about 30 seconds)
  • Heat in microwave until warm or serve over ice
  • Optional: to make as a post workout snack, add 1 Scoop Vanilla Protein powder

Nutrition Facts with added protein:

  • 150 calories
  • 24 grams protein
  • 11 grams carbohydrate
  • 9.5 grams sugar