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In the Kitchen: Creative pumpkin recipes

I love the month of October. Everywhere you look there are pumpkins. It might not feel like fall just yet (welcome to Georgia), but the pumpkins sure help with the fall vibe. 

When it comes to cooking, pumpkin puree is a surprisingly delicious ingredient in many dishes. While you can certainly purchase pie pumpkins (the little ones) to cook with, canned pumpkin puree is just as tasty and a whole lot easier to work with. 

Here are some of my favorite recipes using inexpensive and readily available canned pumpkin puree. Just be sure to get the canned puree and not pumpkin pie filling. 

Did you know pumpkins are incredibly healthy? High in vitamin A, pumpkins are also loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, and are a good source of vitamin E, iron and folate. Pumpkin is also low in calories — a cup contains only 50 calories. 

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This dish is as beautiful as it is delicious. I love to use pappardelle or tagliatelle pasta, but if you cannot find those, fettuccine is a fine substitute.

Pumpkin Alfredo

12 ounces pappardelle pasta or tagliatelle or fettuccine

2 tablespoons butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. Drain pasta. Meanwhile, heat butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook a few minutes. Add pumpkin puree and heavy cream and bring to the boiling point. Reduce to a simmer until thickened. Add salt, pepper and Parmesan. Add drained pasta to sauce, tossing to combine. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water if sauce is too thick. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. 

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Pumpkin bread

4 eggs

1/2 cup neutral oil, such as avocado

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups sugar

1 (15-ounce) canned pumpkin puree

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup water

3 ½ cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup Turbinado raw cane sugar

In a large bowl, whisk together oils, sugar, pumpkin puree, milk and water. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk to combine. 

Line two loaf pans with parchment paper. Divide batter between both loaf pans. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Return to oven and bake another five to 10 minutes. Cool. 

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Store-bought granola is expensive and often contains a lot of questionable ingredients. Making granola at home is easy and lets you customize it to your personal preferences. Feel free to substitute your favorite nuts. Enjoy!

Pumpkin granola

6 cups rolled oats

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup pistachios

1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup pure maple syrup

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, pistachios and coconut flakes. In another bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, olive oil, maple syrup, salt and cinnamon. 

Pour pumpkin mixture over oat mixture and stir to combine. Spread out on rimmed baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven. Bake for 15 minutes and then stir granola. Continue baking another 20 minutes. Cool and then store in plastic baggies or airtight container for up to a week. 

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Do you love those pumpkin-flavored coffee creamers? Have you read the ingredient list? Here is a great alternative with just five ingredients — all real food ingredients. 

Pumpkin coffee creamer

1 ½ cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 cinnamon stick

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for a few minutes. Add a few tablespoons to your coffee — more to taste. Remove cinnamon stick and store remaining creamer in the refrigerator. To really gild the lily, add whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon to your coffee.