October might call for cozying up with pumpkin spice lattes and muffins, but the sugar and fat (and cream cheese frosting!) can offset the nutritional benefits of this fall favorite. A delicious part of many healthy diet plans, and high in beta-carotene and potassium, pumpkin can be roasted and eaten like any other squash, making it a great option for hearty grain bowls and salads.

Explains Lori Welstead, RD, at the University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center, “Pumpkin is a good source of soluble fiber, which has heart healthy benefits. It is often well tolerated from a gastro-intestinal standpoint. Pumpkin is delicious roasted, in soups or used in replacement for oil in brownie recipes. It is also a good source of Vitamin C, which is important for immunity boosting during this time of year.”

Roasted Pumpkin and Pear Grain Salad

(Serves 4)

  • Mediterranean diet
  • Gluten-free
  • Vegetarian/Plant-based


  • 1 small pie pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 ripe pears cut into cubes, peeled or unpeeled
  • 2 cups cooked grain (brown rice, white rice, or quinoa, or a combination)
  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 1 T. fig jam
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Lightly oil a baking pan and roast pumpkin for 20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit or until just tender when pierced by a fork.
  • Let cool for 15 minutes at room temperature.
  • Whisk olive oil, vinegar, jam, mustard and salt and pepper in a bowl (or shake in a sealed jar) until combined.
  • Gently mix pumpkin, grains, cranberries in a large bowl with 4 T. of dressing.
  • Place pumpkin mixture on bed of greens and top with diced pears and crumbled cheese. Serve immediately.