Welcome in the season with a warm and festive curried pumpkin stew from Brooke’s Natural Café.

It’s fall in Florida, which means it’s time for pumpkin-flavored everything. From pumpkin lattes to pies and pancakes, the bright orange, bulbous gourd is seemingly everywhere. Harder to find, however, are pumpkin-based recipes that won’t make your waistline look, well, pumpkin-esque. Rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, magnesium and dietary fiber, this fall favorite should be on every athlete’s plate (so long as it’s not served up on a crust and topped with whipped cream).

Brooke Wagenheim of Brooke’s Natural Café in Fort Myers, likes to serve her pumpkin in a savory curried pumpkin stew. The two main ingredients in this recipe, coconut milk and pumpkin, will leave you feeling full while arming you with immune-boosting vitamins. Additionally, the lauric acid found in coconut milk converts into monolaurin in the body–a natural germ-fighting powerhouse that slays viruses and bacteria, perfect for flu season!

Wagenheim has spent a lifetime exploring flavors and different styles of cooking, reflected in this exotic stew. “My mother used to put red peppers on the electric coils of the stove to roast, and I would marvel and the smells swirling around in the kitchen,” she says. After college, Wagenheim spent eight years studying various culinary techniques in Minneapolis and eventually ended up opening her own restaurant in Tokyo. She now owns an organic café that features healthy comfort food, a juice bar and catering. “I’ve learned to create amazing yet simple combinations of ingredients that not only have delicious, complex flavors, but also are nourishing and even healing to the body.”

Try this stew next time you need a warm, pumpkin pick-me-up—and don’t want it topped with whipped cream.


2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup shallot or yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh chopped ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
pinch cayenne
3 cups pumpkin peeled, seeded and chopped into small cubes
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup water
1 cup sliced asparagus
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a soup pot and sauté the onions, garlic, jalapeno and ginger until the onions are translucent. Add the curry powder, cumin, tarragon, cayenne and pumpkin. Stir well. Add the coconut milk and simmer until the pumpkin is tender. If too much of the liquid evaporates during the cooking process, feel free to add more coconut milk or water. Finish the stew by adding the asparagus, salt, pepper, lemon, and cilantro.