Cooking with Canned Pumpkin Purée: A Recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars and a Trader Joe’s Brownie Mix Makeover (Podcast #121)

For this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we celebrate Halloween with a tribute to the almighty pumpkin. A member of the Cucurbita family (which also includes squash and cucumber), pumpkin is off the charts when it comes to versatility and nutrition: It’s packed with immune-boosting vitamin A as well as fiber and nutrients like potassium.

We recently asked our Facebook fans to share their favorite ways to use pumpkin, and we heard a wide array of suggestions.

> Sarah: “I used some canned pumpkin last night when I made your Apple Butterscotch Cake and didn’t have any applesauce! It’s delicious!”

> Karen: “I throw a bit in with my morning oatmeal + nutmeg + cinnamon (Cooking Light idea). It is so good.”

> Carly: “Pumpkin chili is a favorite at our house. I just add 1 to 2 cups (depending on the amount of chili I’m making). Hubby and kids don’t know that they are eating pumpkin!”

As you read on, you’ll find the recipes we shared on the show including a makeover for Trader Joe’s Truffle Brownies, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, Pumpkin Custard, Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting, and a bunch more.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Makes 10 to 12 Bars (Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

3¼ cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk oats, spices, and salt together. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk brown sugar, pumpkin, honey, and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour over oats and stir well, until all of the oats are moist. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Evenly press oat mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. The pumpkin keeps the bars moist, so make sure they are golden and set-you don’t want them to be under baked. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

5. Using a sharp knife, cut into bars. Remove from pan and let cool completely.

Print Recipe

Like applesauce, pumpkin purée can be an excellent substitute for butter and oil in recipes. We use it in our Trader Joe’s Truffle Brownie makeover. This is something Liz whipped up a few years back, and it’s been a favorite with her boys ever since.  Here’s the skinny on the makeover:

> The “recipe” on the box calls for the addition of 2 eggs and 1 stick of butter.  We switch to omega-3 eggs and replace the butter with 1/4 cup heart-healthy canola oil and 1/2 cup canned pumpkin. For good measure, we also add 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (for even more omega-3). The pumpkin blends right in, and all you really taste is the rich chocolate.

When we tweeted about our upcoming pumpkin podcast, fellow dietitian, Susan Dopart, MS, RD, author of  A Recipe for Life by the Doctor’s Dietitian, sent us her recipe for Pumpkin Custard. We haven’t tried it yet, but it sure looks fabulous.

Pumpkin Custard

Makes 6 Servings

  • 1½ cups canned pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 large eggs, separated

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together canned pumpkin, yogurt and ricotta cheese until blended.  Stir in honey and spices.

2. Separate egg yolks from whites and stir egg yolks into pumpkin mixture.  Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into mixture.

3. Pour into 6 ramekins and bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes until puffed and rounded.  Serve immediately.

Variation:  May put a dollop of whipped cream on each ramekin.

Print Recipe

As for all the other recipes we dished about on the show, here are the links:

> Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting featured on our blog earlier this week.

> Pumpkin Pie Popsicles featured on Weekly Bite, a blog written by dietitian and mom, Estela Schnelle.

> Pumpkin Smoothie, a favorite of dietitian and USA Today blogger, Elizabeth Ward.

> Pumpkin Milkshakes from Jerilyn from The Because Show, a podcast we hope you’ll all check out!

Based on the input we got from many of our readers, we suspect you too may have a recipe to shar

12 responses to “Cooking with Canned Pumpkin Purée: A Recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars and a Trader Joe’s Brownie Mix Makeover (Podcast #121)”

  1. Those you shared sound great! This week we tried adding pumpkin to our French Toast and it turned out delicious!

  2. Leigh-Ann says:

    The pumpkin cupcakes are AWESOME! They were all gone within 3 hours of being made. My boys loved them & my husband said they were his new all time favorite. Thanks for all the great recipes!

  3. Damaris says:

    The granola bar looks killer. My son is with me and saying “lets make that now”

  4. Maria says:

    I am so glad you liked the granola bars. They are the perfect on the go snack for fall.

  5. Abby says:

    I made the pumpkin granola bars today and they turned out great. My five year old son gave them a big thumbs up. I only added 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips and it has plenty of chocolatey taste.

  6. Jesse says:

    I love pumpkin, in both sweet and savory forms. One of my favorite things to do with canned pumpkin is make a simple creamy pumpkin soup with broccoli.
    I’m lucky enough to be able to listen to my ipod at work. I discovered this podcast a few weeks ago and have been listening to at least a couple of episodes everyday. I think the podcast is both informative and entertaining. Thanks so much for the work you do.
    One suggestion:)
    I noticed in the last two episodes that the sound quality has changed. Most of your shows are very clear; lately however, it sounds like you are sitting in a very “echoey” room. Thanks again!

  7. Nina Kelley says:

    Love all of your pumpkin ideas.

    Here are some pumpkin recipes I have been sharing lately:

  8. Sarah Irving says:

    We loved the cupcakes! I listen to the podcast while I ran during lunch and was so inspired, I cooked them that night….really easy and quite a hit with the kids. Keep up the great work!

  9. Marian says:

    I love this time of year and all the pumpkin recipies that go along with it! I CANT WAIT to get your new cookbook!

  10. Jen says:

    I made the pumpkin granola bars to pack in my 6 year olds backpack for her morning snack instead of the usual Quaker granola bars. Oh no…. they were a little too good. I spoiled her and now all she wants are the homemade granola bars. 🙂 I only used 1/2 cup of the mini chocolate chips too and thought that was more than enough.

  11. Mindi says:

    I made the granola bars this weekend but they were more like granola and less like bars. Any idea why they fell apart? Do you think they weren’t cooked long enough. I did them for 30 minutes and thought they were good.

  12. Erin says:

    I know this is an old post, but I just listened to the episode (yes, I’m way behind on my MMM podcasts) and wonder if pumpkin + canola oil might be a way to make over this Guinness Stout Gingerbread Cake recipe. I loooove it but because of the butter (1 1/2 cups!), it’s strictly a Christmas Morning treat.

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