We Heart Pumpkin: Thanksgiving Recipes You Can Feel Good About

November 16th, 2012

A simple way to uplift your Thanksgiving? Look no further than your Halloween jack-o-lantern!

Who doesn’t love the spirit of the holiday season? From October til December we cook, eat, gift, entertain, party, and shop until we drop – and we delight in it.

Yet in the midst of excessive consumption, it’s always nice to take a step back and simplify life a little.

Cary Caster, 21 Drops founder and natural-living enthusiast, has a unique holiday tradition that underlies the essence of Thanksgiving. Every year Cary saves her pumpkins from Halloween and uses their filling to make some delectable holiday dishes. Homemade pumpkin purée is healthier than using canned pumpkin pie filling and tastes really delicious, too. Cary also toasts the pumpkin seeds so no part of the winter squash goes to waste.

“Finding a new way to use your Halloween pumpkins is a great way to be resourceful,” says Cary of her yearly tradition, “every Thanksgiving I make a huge batch of pumpkin bread to share with friends and family. I even mail my toasted pumpkin seeds to my kids in college across the country!”

To make the pumpkin purée, Cary simmers the pumpkin on the stove with a cinnamon stick, clove and a bit of apple juice (to prevent burning and add flavor). After straining, it’s ready to use in recipes or can be frozen for future use.

Here Cary shares with us two of her favorite Thanksgiving pumpkin recipes.

Roasted Teriyaki Pumpkin Seeds

When you carve your Halloween pumpkin, be sure to remove and save the seeds for this special healthy treat. Pumpkin seeds provide many health benefits such as treating depression, preventing osteoporosis and lowering cholesterol!


¼ cup sesame oil

¼ cup teriyaki or soy sauce

½ tsp cinnamom

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground clove

¼ cayenne (if you like to add a little kick)


Cut opening at top of pumpkin and remove rows of seeds. Place in colander and rinse, removing any excess pulp.

In a medium bowl thoroughly mix all the ingredients.

Add clean rinsed pumpkin seeds into mixture and coat the seeds.

Preheat oven to 350 ‘

Lay out coated pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet that has sides and place in the center of the oven

Every five minutes, remove sheet from oven and toss the seeds with a spatula to coat and toast all sides of the seeds.

Repeat until the seeds turn light brown and all the coating has dried.


Holiday Pumpkin Cheesecake


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

3 tbsp plus 1 cup sugar

1 tsp ground ginger

6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 1/3 lb cream cheese, at room temperature

1 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, at room temperature

1 tsp finely grated orange zest

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/3 tsp ground nutmeg

6 eggs, lightly beaten




Preheat an oven to 325°F. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Cover the outside (bottom and sides) of a 9-inch springform pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side out. Butter the inside of the pan and set aside.

In a bowl stir together the graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar and the ginger. Stir and toss together while gradually adding the melted butter. Continue to stir and toss until well mixed. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the inside of the pan to reach 1-3/4 – 2 inches up the sides. Chill for 30 minutes.

Place the room temperature cream cheese in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat until no lumps are visible. Cream cheese should be light and fluffy. Slowly add 1 cup sugar while continuously beating; occasionally scrape down the bowl sides. Add the pumpkin, orange zest, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl sides. Using a rubber spatula, stir slowly to dispel some of the air bubbles.

Pour the batter in the prepared pan and smooth the surface until it is flat. Bake until the top is lightly puffed all over, 60 – 70 minutes. The center may be slightly underset but it will firm up during cooling. Cool on a wire rack, then remove the foil and pan sides and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, you may want to carefully slip the chilled cake off the pan bottom and onto a large, flat serving plate, if you have one.

Yum – we can’t wait for Thanksgiving dinner! Now all we need is some # 12 Uplift to enhance the holiday spirit!

What are your favorite holiday recipes?


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One Response

  1. Bill says:

    How about this it’s a yummy casserole I call pasta pie that I leanred on an episode of Martha Stewart years ago. I substitute Jimmy Dean Spicy Sausage in place of the supprasatta sausage in the recipe. Fry it up in a pan and crumble it up before you stir it in.I skip the cake pan and parchment paper and just bake it in a 13 X 9 casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray (you may have too much and need another dish to bake the rest in). Cut in squares and serve with a side salad, if you like.It’s yummy hot comfort food like lasagna .perfect for a chilly Autumn day and a dessert pumpkin pie with coffee!Best of all .your house will smell so yummy!Eleanora’s Spaghetti PieIngredientsServes 10 to 121 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperatureCoarse salt1 pound spaghetti6 large eggs, lightly beaten1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)12 ounces hot soppressata sausage, cut into 1/4-inch dice1 cup (4 ounces) finely grated pecorino Romano cheese1/4 cup heavy cream1 teaspoon dried parsley1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper DirectionsPreheat oven to 375 degrees.with rack in center. Butter a 10-inch-by-3-inch cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper; set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Cook spaghetti, according to package instructions, until al dente. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine eggs, mozzarella, soppressata, pecorino Romano, heavy cream, dried parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Drain spaghetti, and add to the egg-and-cheese mixture; stir to combine. Pour mixture into prepared pan, and cover with aluminum foil. Bake about 40 minutes. Remove foil, and bake until lightly browned and crisp on top, 20 minutes more. Transfer to a rack to cool, about 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge, and unmold, removing parchment. Invert, cut into wedges, and serve hot. Was this answer helpful?

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