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This time of year, we've got pumpkins on the brain -- and in the pantry. There's the Halloween jack-o'-lantern, of course (made from a not-so-tasty variety of pumpkin meant for carving). Then throughout the holiday season, we inevitably have a cup or so of canned pumpkin hanging around after making a loaf of pumpkin bread or a pumpkin pie or two.

Below, I'll show you four delicious ways to use that pumpkin, from breakfast (waffles) to dessert (cake). But first, let's chat about the nutritional power of this famous member of the squash family.

Fresh pumpkins are available from September to November (80% of the U.S. pumpkin supply is available in October), but you can buy canned pumpkin year-round.

The nutritional difference between canned and fresh pumpkin is mainly the vitamin C content. With 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin, you get 1.7 g fiber, 170% of the Daily Value for vitamin A, 8% Daily Value for vitamin E, 4% for vitamin C and folic acid, 6% for iron and magnesium -- all for just 20 calories! Twenty calories worth of boiled fresh pumpkin will give you a little less vitamin A (135% of the Daily Value), but a little more vitamin C (8% Daily Value).

Now, enjoy the pumpkin season!

Pumpkin Challah Bread

Journal as: 2 slices of whole-grain bread

This bread is heavenly fresh from the oven, so bake it right before you plan to serve it.

1/2 cup warm water (100-110-degrees)
1 egg yolk (reserve the white)
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 packet active dry yeast (about 2 teaspoons)

  • Add ingredients to bread machine pan in order recommended by manufacturer.
  • Set bread machine to DOUGH cycle (1 hour, 40 minutes) and press START. After 5 minutes, if the dough appears too stiff, add a tablespoon of low-fat milk or water.
  • When dough is ready, divide into three equal sections and roll each into a rope about 18 inches long. Line the ropes up, side by side, on a nonstick jellyroll pan coated with canola cooking spray. Squeeze the three rope ends together at one end. Braid the ropes, then squeeze the other ends together, too.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set pan near the oven while it is preheating to help the bread rise (cover the bread with a kitchen towel if desired). While waiting, whisk the egg white with 2 teaspoons water.
  • When bread is doubled in size (about 1 hour), gently brush the egg white on top of the bread and bake until golden brown (40-50 minutes). Let cool about 5 minutes before slicing with serrated knife.

Yield: 12 servings

Per serving: 181 calories, 6 g protein, 35 g carbohydrate, 2.2 g fat (0.3 g saturated fat, 0.9 g monounsaturated fat, 0.6 g polyunsaturated fat), 18 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 189 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 11%.

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