6 Great Ways to Use Pumpkins
Thanksgiving and Halloween has come and gone. The forgotten Jack o’ Lantern by your window has probably started wither and dry. Although Jack is now MIA, pumpkins have much more versatility than being a vessel for carving spooky faces onto. Pumpkins are in season now making them fresh, flavorful, and not to mention cheaper at your next stop at the market. They are low calorie and extremely nutritious being very high in the antioxidant vitamin A and fiber, and contain much less carbohydrates than an equal serving size of sweet potato (just 12g per cup mashed vs 59g from the spuds, that is not to say that sweet potatoes are bad for you!). Vitamin A has long been known for its benefits on maintain healthy eyes, especially for maintaining or even improving vision in dim lighting for those who are deficient. The highest concentration of which are found in orange and deep-green colored fruits and vegetables, Vitamin A can be stored underneath our skin, giving those more color to their skin during seasons when they are not exposed to as much sun. Vitamin A was actually the vitamin to be discovered and its antioxidant properties are believed to have anti-aging properties by fighting against free radicals within the body.
Not as handy in the kitchen? Most recipes call for pumpkin to be mashed, which can be found unsweetened and canned in most groceries, and they still taste great. Try slowly adding some homemade or canned puree to morning oatmeals or plain yogurt with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon and pecans. If going the homemade route, try the following:
- Wash the pumpkin of any dirt and debris it may have collected from growing close to the ground.
- Remove the thick stem by cutting around it with a small knife.
- Scoop out seeds and set aside (they can be roasted too! http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/toasted_pumpkin_seeds/)
- Cut the pumpkin into quarters, and split each quarter in half so that you have 8 pieces, skin on.
- Place on a lined baking pan and season with olive oil and salt (or not), and bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes, depending on size of pumpkin.
- If you want to go the sweeter route, you can season it with a pre-mixed pumpkin spice mix, or make your own by sprinkling on a combination of brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl first to ensure an even coating, and set aside any extra for future use.
They can be mashed warm or cold using a potato masher or can be pureed using a food processor or blender. When the puree is set aside and cooled, it is great in a smoothie, a great base for soup, or curries. Save yourself the hassle of cleaning more tools and eat fresh out of the oven! Or eat with a side of prepared protein such as roasted chicken.
Here are a few more ways you can make great use use of your pumpkins.
Pumpkin Fries and Spicy Ketchup
Photo by: Savynaturalista.com
Directions: Peel and seed 1 sm (2-3lb) pumpkin. Slice into 1/4″ thick sticks. Toss in a small bowl with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp cury powder. Arrange an oiled baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees until browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. Mix 1/4 cup ketchup with 2 Tbsp hot sauce. Salt fries to taste and serve with spicy ketchup. YUM!
Pumpkin is great for your skin too!
Please share your favorite pumpkin recipes with us.