Pumpkin Leek Soup with Pumpkin Seed Crema

Serves 6-8 / Suitable for a quick meal at home or decadent enough for a dinner party, this soup will satisfy your taste buds and your nutritional needs.

Pumpkin Seed Crema
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, roasted
2 tablespoons fresh sage
2 tablespoons low-fat milk
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt

1. In blender or food processor, mix all ingredients and blend well. Keep refrigerated until use.

Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
1 medium sugar pumpkin, seeded and cubed (or 3 cups canned pumpkin)
1 32-ounce package vegetable stock
1 cup low-fat milk
1-2 tablespoons chopped sage, to taste
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Roasted pumpkin seeds, to garnish
Sage leaves, to garnish
Pumpkin seed crema, to garnish

1. Heat olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add garlic, potatoes, onion, carrot, leeks and pumpkin. Sauté over medium heat until the vegetables have begun to brown, about 7-8 minutes. (If using canned pumpkin, add with stock below.)

2. Add stock and milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10-12 minutes.

3. Add sage and pureé mixture in blender or food processor. Add cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Serve in individual bowls, garnished with a drizzle of pumpkin seed crema, roasted pumpkin seeds and a sprig of sage.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 254 calories Fat: 9g % fat calories: 29% Cholesterol: 2mg Carbohydrate: 41g Protein: 7g

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Makes 12 small or 6 large muffins

1 cup pumpkin purée
3/4 cup wheat bran
3 egg whites
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk (can substitute nonfat buttermilk or nonfat plain yogurt)
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/2 cups dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. In large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin pureé, wheat bran, egg whites, buttermilk, molasses, brown sugar and orange rind. Whisk together.

3. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

4. Stir wet ingredients into dry, mixing well. Add cranberries to mixture and stir.

5. Fill cups of a nonstick muffin pan a half-inch from top. Bake about 30 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.

How To Pureé Pumpkin
1. Cut pumpkin into large chunks.
2. Arrange chunks in a steamer.
3. Let steam for 30 to 45 minutes. It's done when interior is soft.
4. Remove from steamer and scrape pulp away from skin.
5. Whip with beater or pureé in food processor.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 164 calories Fat: 1g % fat calories: 4% Cholesterol: 1mg Carbohydrate: 38g Protein: 4g