It’s officially October. (Hooray!) This means ‘tis the season of all things pumpkin: decorating, carving, candles, and even food. Whether in the form of pie or bread, we all know pumpkin is the holiday go-to for fall. But, did you know pumpkin is packed with nutrition? High in potassium, fiber, extremely low in calories, and full of Vitamins A and C- this fall favorite is doing a whole lot more for us than we give it credit! (Assuming, of course, you stray from the pie more often than not.) Pumpkin can be used in far more than just the sweet treats we initially think of.
This gourd- technically classified as a fruit- is a yummy base for countless recipes that will immediately up your child’s daily healthy food intake by just simply adding pumpkin puree to some of your favorite family dinners.
Today’s recipe is spaghetti! Every kid loves spaghetti. The clever catch? Let’s make pumpkin tomato spaghetti sauce to pour over your pasta (mixed with zucchini noodles!). Your kids will be clueless as to how much “healthy” they are actually putting into their bellies. Fearful they will be onto you or they don’t like pumpkin? Keep the portion of puree smaller. Then for your dinner table to the lunch box quick fix, take this vita-packed spaghetti sauce to make pizzadillas for lunch the next day. How fun is that? Your kids will love this original lunch box item. You will love that they are getting their fruits and veggies for the day.
Pumpkin Meat Sauce:
-2 cans of organic tomato sauce
-1 can crushed tomato
-2 tbsp. tomato paste
-1 tbsp. dried oregano
-2 tbsp. chopped basil
-1 can organic pumpkin puree (do not get pumpkin pie!)
-Spicy Italian Sausage (this is optional if the “spicy” scares you, but it is what makes my momma’s recipe a town favorite!)
-Ground lean turkey, chicken, or beef (I am a turkey girl)
-Add in garlic, salt, and pepper to taste
In a pan, put a tablespoon of oil to cook your ground beef as well as your sausage- making sure you have cut it out of the casing and cut into ½ inch chunks. Once browned- drain, pat, & dry. In a large pot add in tomato sauces, paste, and puree. Stir in the spices and cooked meat. Allow for the entire pot of sauce to simmer for 20 minutes. With a little cooling time, it will thicken the sauce as well.
Zucchini noodles: best made with a spiral cutter or julienne blade
-2 medium to large zucchini
First peel, then cut the zucchini in strips (this is where a spiral cutter or julienne is handy). Next salt and let the zucchini set in a colander over a mixing bowl to drain for 20 minutes (even give them a squeeze to be sure they are dry.) No cooking is necessary! Although, I will suggest mixing the zucchini noodles with regular grain pasta spaghetti to keep the hidden veggies a secret from the kiddos. But, it’s totally up to you! This sauce would also work great over a spaghetti squash, which is a staple item in my own pantry. Basically, the options are endless with this recipe. So now with plenty of leftover sauce from dinner, this leads me to tomorrow’s lunch!
-1 tortilla of choice (flour, wheat, or corn)
** if using corn, use two tortillas like a sandwich rather than folding one large one over.
-2-3 tbsp. of leftover pumpkin meat sauce
-Shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
-Other toppings: Canadian bacon, turkey pepperoni, pepperoni, peppers, olives, etc. (This is fun! It’s totally up to you.)
If you have a quesadilla maker, then great! If not, you can absolutely use a skillet. Lay your tortilla down on low-medium heat and allow one side to warm. (Larger tortillas will work best.) Once warmed and beginning to soften, flip and add the sauce, toppings, and cheese to the warm side of your tortilla. Fold over the plain half. Cook each side until perfectly golden brown. VOILA! We have a pizzadilla. Your kids will love it, and your leftovers are put to good use.
Being such a yummy (easy to hide) nutritious item, it beats me why we don’t cook with pumpkin year ’round! Regardless, pumpkin season has rolled in and I am taking full advantage of this season’s favorite orange gourd. Get to cooking, Mommas!