Pumpkin Is the Perfect Addition to Any Meal
by Kirsten Harrington
Pumpkin is a healthy and flavorful addition to almost any dish.
Making an appearance in everything from doughnuts to dog treats, lattes and peanut butter, pumpkin is arguably America’s favorite fall flavor. We aren’t the only ones who love this glorious globe — pumpkin appears in savory dishes across the world from Italian ravioli to Thai curries to Moroccan tagines. It’s incredibly versatile and can be incorporated into just about any dish.
High in fiber, low in calories, and filled with nutrients like alpha and beta carotene, vitamins C and E, potassium and magnesium, pumpkin packs a solid nutritional punch. Available year-round in canned form, this vibrant squash is an easy way to add flavor and health benefits to casseroles, pasta sauces, soups, stews and baked goods.
While canned pumpkin is a perfectly acceptable substitute for fresh pureed pumpkin, here are a few tips if you’re going to use the fresh ones. Smaller varieties such as sugar or pie pumpkins are denser and sweeter; stay away from large carving pumpkins. They tend to have big seed cavities without much flavor. Look for solid pumpkins with the stem intact, and don’t be afraid of little, gray, pimple-sized blemishes — these are called sugar warts and indicate extra sweetness.
Fresh pumpkin can be cooked in the oven by rubbing large chunks with oil first and then cooking at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. You can also steam them by placing smaller pieces into a steaming basket placed over a saucepan with water in the bottom. Bring water to a boil, cover and steam until tender — about 10-15 minutes. Microwaving pumpkin is a real time-saver. Cut the squash in half (or smaller), place in a microwave safe dish with 1/2 cup water. Cover with plastic wrap, and cook until tender, five to 10 minutes.
Look for fresh pumpkins at Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, Fancy Fruit and Produce, Publix Super Market, Trader Joe’s and various farmers markets. Pumpkin can be incorporated into pancake batter, oatmeal, risotto, veggie burgers, shakes and so much more.
The following are a few recipes to get you started:
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 large ripe banana
1 cup unsweetened soy milk or coconut milk beverage
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Five ice cubes
Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into two glasses and serve.
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg and allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon water
Blend all ingredients until smooth, adding a little more water if necessary.
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
courtesy of Holly McCall of Winter Garden
Note: This recipe makes three loaves, plenty to share with friends.
1 can pumpkin purée
4 egg yolks
1 cup oil
2/3 cup water
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup mini-chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three medium loaf pans with cooking spray. Mix first four ingredients. Add everything else except chocolate chips. Once thoroughly combined, stir in chocolate chips. Pour into loaf pans and bake for 50-60 minutes.💓