Pumpkins, the Spookiest Superfood
Pumpkins are nature’s stoplights. They demand to be seen. Plump orange symbols of autumn, they signal the end of summer and remind you, Halloween is fast approaching. One look at these unchanging beauties can transport you to simpler times. After all, who doesn’t remember the thrill of childhood pumpkins? Fiery Jack-o-lantern eyes glowed in windows, as you bravely approached neighborhood doorsteps to trick-or-treat. According to the History Channel, Halloween was originally an Irish and Scottish tradition, brought to America by immigrants in the 1800s. The celebration honored the dead and marked the end of Fall harvest… Although, instead of pumpkins, early Jack-o-lanterns were carved from turnips and other vegetables; these illuminated veggie faces were believed supernatural, and thought to ward off evil spirits.
These days, come late September, it seems everything from pasta to lattes taste of spiced pumpkin. And while decorative pumpkins are lovely and can technically be eaten, they were bred for looks and not flavor. Did you know there are 45 different varieties of pumpkins? Curious which ones are the tastiest? Check out this edible pumpkin & winter squash guide from Todd & Diane.
As a superfood, edible pumpkins possess a kind of nutritional magic. Abundant and wildly versatile, the flesh of the edible pumpkin is a wellness powerhouse: their color provides antioxidant protection in the form of betacarotene, (converts to vitamin A). Pumpkin also boasts a laundry list of vitamins, minerals (iron, copper) and fiber. And its seeds aren’t too shabby either. In addition to vitamins, they contain 12 grams of protein per cup; Also, calcium, zinc, selenium, Omega 3, magnesium, potassium and more...
And if that’s not enough to get you dashing to your local green market, researchers are studying pumpkins for a variety of health benefits, including cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Uniquely flavorful, pumpkin can be whipped into delectable sweets, or savory main courses. Want to take advantage of this amazing seasonal superfood? Read on for some simple recipes…
Pumpkin Seed Milk
Yields 16 Ounces
1 Cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds
4 Cups Spring or Filtered Water
Dash of Vanilla or Almonds Extract
Optional: 2 Tbsp Honey or 1/3 tsp Stevia
You’ll also need, a blender or food Processor. And a strainer or cheesecloth
Wash and soak pumpkin seeds overnight (makes them softer and more nutritious). In the morning, pour out the water. Combine seeds, 4 cups spring water, (optional sweetener) and extract, in a blender, until it turns white and frothy. Strain off pulp and transfer to a large Mason Jar.
Note: save pulp in another jar. It can be added to yogurt, oatmeal, or used for baking.
Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup
1 Large Diced Sweet Potato
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1 Small Bunch Scallions
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
1/4 Cup Filtered or Spring Water
1 Tsp Sea Salt
Dash White Pepper
1 Granny Smith Apple
Optional: 1/2 Tsp Ginger Powder
First, caramelize scallions in a frying pan with oil, and set aside. Then in a saucepan, add diced sweet potato, pumpkin puree, salt, pepper, water and milk (optional ginger). Heat on low flame... until sweet potatoes are soft and tender (approx 15 - 20 minutes). Stir and mash until blended. Before it comes to a boil shut off fire. Put in blender or food processor and puree until smooth: the thickness of heavy cream. If too thick, add a bit more milk or water. Garnish with browned scallions. Serve with Granny Smith apple slices on the side.
Pumpkin Breakfast Smoothie
Yields 2-3 servings
1 1/2 Cups Oat Milk
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1/2 Tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 Tbsp Honey
1 Tsp Maple Syrup
1 Tsp Cinnamon
Chop banana into in inch slices and freeze overnight. The next day: combine, banana, pumpkin, honey, cinnamon, maple syrup and oat milk in a blender. Pulse until creamy.
Cacao Pumpkin Seed Breakaway
Yields 3-4 Servings
4 Ounces Virgin (unrefined) Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup Raw or Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
2 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
2 Tsp Brown Sugar
Dash Vanilla Extract
Prepare a sheet of aluminum foil over a plate and set aside. Warm coconut oil in a double boiler until it becomes liquid and shut off flame. If your oil is in a warm place and has naturally liquified then no heating may be needed. Add sugar and dissolve fully. Mix in cacao powder and extract, pressing out any lumps. Fold in pumpkin seeds.
Once your mixture is evenly distributed, place on aluminum foil (or small cookie sheet) and flatten out, to about 1/4 inch thick. Then bring plate to the freezer and slide off the aluminum and place the mixture inside, uncovered. The plate will stabilize the foil so it won’t fall, and help glide it into the freezer with ease.
Wait 30 minutes. Then remove from freezer and foil, breaking chocolate into pieces. Keep cold. Store in a large Mason Jar in the fridge. *Note: if left unrefrigerated, these delicacies will melt in a flash. So better eat them quickly!