Pumpkin: A Fun Fall Food

I thought that I would change up my tune a little bit and write about something seasonal. No matter how much I want to believe that the summer is still here, the Christmas decorations at Cotsco tell me otherwise. Sigh. But I’m not going to talk about Christmas or any other winter holidays today. Confused? So was I when I saw those fake Christmas trees in September. I digress… Today I am writing about something very… Fall: Pumpkins. Pumpkin patches have popped up all over Wilmington and I thought I’d provide some ideas of what to do with these stinkers other than paint, carve or smash them.

Eating pumpkin is underrated.

Growing up I was taught to scoop out the pulp and seeds and throw those away (which I never minded since it was all kind of smelly.) We would occasionally toast the seeds, but my pillowcase full of candy always won over the Ziplock bag of dry seeds and I never would have considered taking a bite out of Jack (O’Lantern). Yet, I wish I would’ve been taught that pumpkin pie wasn’t the only way to enjoy pumpkin. In adulthood I learned to be open minded and curious about pumpkin – well about all food in general – and I’ve found out that I like it…a lot.

For a little background: pumpkins are a Fall veggie and if you are selecting one it should feel firm and heavy for its size. One serving of pumpkin provides 130% of the average person’s Vitamin A needs for the day and 15 % of their Vitamin C needs. Talk about vitamin packed and a clever way to add some variety into your meals!

Canned pumpkin or whole pumpkin can both be used in a multitude of ways.

  • If you use canned pumpkin please you double check if you are need pumpkin puree (only pumpkin) or pumpkin pie mix (sweetened and spiced for convenience). Depending on what you are making this could make a significant difference for your end product.
  • If you have a whole pumpkin on hand, spoon out the seeds and stringy pulp and cut the pumpkin into large pieces. Roast it until fork-tender (about 350 for 45 minutes) and then remove/peel the skin off. You may need a knife for this. Next, mash the pumpkin flesh up with a potato masher, put it in your blender or food processor. Voila. Fresh pumpkin puree that you can use or freeze.

I am a big proponent of eating a variety of foods and of adding foods, not taking foods away. I hope that these ideas help you branch out and see if pumpkin is something you enjoy in your meals and/or snacks! Pumpkin (Spice) up your life!

Pumpkin Smoothie:

1 cup milk, 1 medium banana, ¼ cup pumpkin, 1 dash of cinnamon, maple syrup to taste, 4 ice cubes. Blend. Drink. Yum.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili:

Courtesy of www.WholeFoodsMarket.com *

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-pound ground white or dark meat turkey
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Instructions:

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeños and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, 1 cup water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

Pumpkin Apple Doggy Treats:

Courtesy of http://munchkinsandmilitary.com/2016/10/pumpkin-apple-dog-treats.html *

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 4.5 cups oatmeal, plus additional
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grind the oatmeal down in a food processor or blender. Transfer to mixing bowl. Core apple, being sure to remove all of the seeds. Grate apple, and add to bowl with oatmeal. Add egg and canned pumpkin to bowl and mix well to combine. The mixture will be thick and slightly sticky. On a surface dusted with oatmeal (ground or not, your choice) roll the dough out to approximately 1/2″ thick. Use a doggy bone cookie cutter to cut dough into shapes, and transfer to a lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Allow to cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container for up to a week.

 

* I am not endorsing these sites, I just like the recipes! I posted the full recipes here to filter out any diet talk or mention of numbers.  But please be aware that these sites may include this information.

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