St. Louis is an interesting place for Halloween. It is tradition here that children tell a joke at their candy holder’s door in order to obtain their sweet loot. My five-year-old can’t wait to not only fill his bag with treats, but he is also looking forward to telling his new joke which goes: “Why didn’t the skeleton go to the haunted house? Because he didn’t have the guts!”

Before our little trick-or-treaters head out the door, I have a little tradition myself and that is to fill their superhero tummies with chili. My hope is that this nourishing dish gives them the energy they need to go from door to door. Of course, as their dietitian mom, I also want to give them the base they need to balance out the sugary treats. This Pumpkin Chicken Chili fits the bill.

Pumpkin Chicken Chili in bowl on a wood table

P.S. – You can easily leave out the chicken for an equally tasty vegetarian chili.

P.S.S. – I think all chili tastes better with a splash of boozy beer. Simmering the chili for 30 minutes ensures your child won’t be a drunken sailor for Halloween.

Short-Cut Ingredient: Canned Pumpkin

These days we are all about pumpkin. Pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins, oh my! We can’t get enough. Although this recipe calls for several short-cut ingredients like canned kidney beans and white beans, the star short-cut ingredient in this recipe is canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is not only extremely convenient, but also has numerous health benefits.

Check out some more of our short-cut recipes on our blog!

Health Benefits of Canned Pumpkin

1. Immune-Boosting Vitamins & Minerals

Pumpkin is rich in beta carotene, a strong antioxidant associated with our immune system. Beta carotene gets converted to vitamin A in our bodies. Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin C as well, which helps us heal wounds and helps our immune cells work more efficiently. It is also a good source of vitamin E, zinc, and folate, all essential nutrients for a strong immune system.

2. Heart Healthy Benefits

Pumpkins are also a high potassium food. Research shows that higher potassium, as well as low sodium intake has been linked to lower blood pressure and also reduces the risk for strokes. Win-win! In addition, pumpkins are a good source of fiber. Canned pumpkin has about 6 grams of fiber per cup! Fiber helps lower blood cholesterol, which helps protect you from heart disease.

3. A Versatile Ingredient

Canned pumpkin is one of our favorite short-cut ingredients because it is so versatile!  Its sweet flavor makes it perfect for sweet recipes such as muffins, pancakes, or pies. However, it is also delicious in savory dishes such as chili, casseroles, salad dressings, or soup. This pumpkin chicken chili is a prime example.

Try to pick canned pumpkin that says “100% pumpkin” in the ingredients. Opt for canned pumpkin that has no added ingredients such as added sugars whenever possible.

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pumpkin chili

Pumpkin Chicken Chili | McDaniel Short-Cut Recipe

  • Author: Jennifer McDaniel
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x


  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans
  • 1 can (15 oz.) northern white beans
  • 1 can (15 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 can (15 oz.) diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup pumpkin beer
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


  1. Sauté garlic, onion, and red bell pepper in olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Once onion is translucent in color, add ground chicken and sauté until chicken is cooked through.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer 30 minutes.
  4. Serve with cheese, diced green onions, sliced avocado & crusty sourdough bread.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: pumpkin, chili, chicken


Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.