Photo by Liz Carr

Pumpkin, the jack (o-lantern) of all trades, does much more than add seasonal décor to the house. The orange gourds are loaded with beta-carotene, a provitamin that converts to vitamin A in the body, which helps boost the immune system and keep our eyes healthyNutrition and retinal degenerations. Berson, E.L. Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, MA. International Opthalmology Clinics, 2000 Fall; 40(4):93-111.. Even better, a cup of fresh, roasted pumpkin purée has three grams of fiber and just 50 calories. Plus it tastes really stinkin’ good, to boot.

When there’s no canned pumpkin to be found on grocery store shelves, add the fiber-filled stuff to any meal, from pancakes to mac n’ cheese, by making your very own purée. We swear it’s easy (the toughest part is waiting for it to cook) plus it’s a fun DIY project for a chilly day.

What You’ll Need:
  • 1 sugar pie pumpkin (any size)*
    Look for a pumpkin with a deep orange, smooth, even-colored exterior and fresh stem (which means it’s not rotting). The pumpkin should be firm with no soft spots.
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Cookie sheet
  • Food processor or blender

(Scroll down for detailed instructions)How to Make Pumpkin Puree

What to Do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Wash the exterior of the pumpkin thoroughly to remove any dirt and grime. Slice off the top of the pumpkin to remove the stem.

3. Cut the pumpkin in half, from top to bottom.

4. Remove the seeds. Use a little elbow grease to get rid of all of the pulp. An ice cream scoop helps get the job done.

5. Place the pumpkin halves open side up on a cookie sheet or baking dish. Roast for 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork-tender (more time may be necessary depending on pumpkin size).

6. Once the pumpkin has cooled, peel the skin away from the pumpkin flesh. The skin softens in the oven and peels away pretty easily with just your hands or with the help of a large spoon.

7. Toss pumpkin flesh in a food processor or blender (cut it into smaller chunks for easier processing). Pulse the pumpkin until it’s completely smooth. If the pumpkin looks too dry (drier than apple sauce) add a little water, one tablespoon at a time. If the pumpkin looks too liquidy, place the puree in a cheesecloth-lined colander and let it drain into a bowl or the sink for an hour).

8. Use the fresh pumpkin purée immediately — store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for later use.

*Don’t have a sugar pumpkin? Butternut squash works too!

Ever made your own pumpkin purée? How’d it go? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet the author @nicmcdermott.