After the apples are harvested in late summer comes the epitome of autumn; the ripening of pumpkins. Beautiful, versatile pumpkins of every imaginable size, variety and color even seem to turn mall parking lots into a fall party with scarecrows and dried cornstalks doing the decorating as children scramble to pick out “the biggest one.”
And while children might enjoy such activity, there is great nutritional value to be had in those parking lot pumpkins. Just 1/2 cup of pumpkin, yields 280% (of the RDA) of vitamin A, 4 grams of fiber, and 4% vitamin C, 2% calcium and iron is 8%. Pumpkins are also rich in selenium, potassium and zinc.
But don’t forget about the abundance of phytochemicals (over 18 phytochemicals — unreal!) in pumpkin that make this food a (super!) natural for fighting cancer. That’s not too shabby for a great, big squash.
For those of you with pumpkin intrepidation, don’t worry! You can open a can of pumpkin puree and do just as well. Here’s a few tips and ideas plus three tasty recipes to keep you in pumpkin heaven for the fall:
*Try adding some pumpkin puree to your pancake batter this Saturday. Sprinkle a few walnuts and cinnamon over the top of the syrup and enjoy your fall pancakes!
*Pumpkin bread is a perfect hostess gift anytime during the fall, but is very welcome at Thanksgiving. Make a big batch and freeze them for later giving.
*One summer, I grew a big patch of Sugar Pumpkins (pie pumpkins) and I baked them whole in the oven (removed a rack) till they were soft. Then I removed the pumpkins, let them cool, took out the pumpkin “innards”, took out the seeds and bagged it up in freezer
bags for later cooking. The cooking whole part made my harvesting of the pumpkin easier because the hard outer shell was too difficult to permeate with a knife.
Honey Pumpkin Pie
1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin (or pumpkin puree)
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup honey
3 eggs — slightly beaten
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour (sold in health food stores)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Pastry for single 9-inch pie crust (use your favorite recipe)
Combine all ingredients except pastry in large bowl, beat until
well blended. Pour into a pastry-lined, 9-inch pie plate — how
hard is that? 🙂 Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until a
knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Maple-Roasted Squash & Pumpkin (adapted from Cooking Light)
3/4 pound acorn squash — cut in half vertically; discard seeds
2 1/2 pounds pumpkin — cut in half vertically; save seeds (recipe
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons butter– melted
1/4 cup sucanat (sugar substitute, available in health food stores)
teeny bit of salt
Cut each squash and pumpkin half into 8 wedges. Place wedges
in a 13″x9″-inch baking dish, lightly greased. Carefully drizzle
syrup and butter over wedges, and sprinkle with sucanat and a
little bit of salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender
and lightly browned, turning wedges every 15 minutes.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 pound raw pumpkin seeds
spray oil (I use a non-aerosol pump — better for you)
salt to taste
Preheat oven to 250. Put the seeds in a bowl, and spray them
with oil. Sprinkle the salt over them, tossing to distribute evenly.
Spread on a baking sheet in one layer and bake until you hear
them popping and they are browned slightly, between 5 and 10
minutes. Cool completely and store in an air-tight container.
Leanne Ely, Your Dinner Diva
Saving Your Dinner Since 2001, http://savingdinner.com