Each week in October check out a new pumpkin recipe. What's up with all this pumpkin obsession anyway?
Once a upon a time October meant raking up colorful autumn leaves the beautiful reds, oranges, yellows and browns, mums sitting on door steps, children dressed in Halloween costumes, Halloween parties, fall sweatshirts and jackets, cool Autumn nights, apple picking, hay rides, ghost stories, haunted houses and pumpkin pie. Yup I said it; the very word that makes people go crazy over this time of year, the pumpkin craze is back. Then, I get the phone call. My daughter announces with pure excitement and joy in her voice, “my pumpkin coffee is back.” Then says, “All of the stores have pumpkin everything out now and can go pumpkin picking this week and I can make pumpkin muffins.” She sounded like a little kid in a candy store. But, she is not alone; the obsession and pumpkin craze is out of control and everyone has the pumpkin fever. If you have not seen or heard anything about pumpkin yet, then you have been living in a cave. I got in my car this morning, turned the key and the first thing I heard on my radio was, “come in and grab you’re your pumpkin Latte today!” It’s everywhere you turn; it’s the invasion of the pumpkins! How did it get to be so out of control?
For the next month there is no escaping the great pumpkin. Every year there seems to be more and more pumpkin flavored stuff in stores due to food and other manufacturing companies jumping on the pumpkin wagon to make a buck or few bucks for that matter. Americans spent over $300 billion in 2013 on pumpkin stuff. Manufactures can now make something like peanut butter or chips taste like a pumpkin. I am simply amazed at all the products that are displayed as soon as you walk in a store so perfectly placed surrounded by fall decorations making impossible to simply walk past. I even stopped at one display just to see what the excitement was about. I was now intrigued and on a mission to see what sort of pumpkin stuff is out there. Here are just a few examples that I found and there are links at the bottom for more of the endless products.
·Oreo cookies ·Cereal, granola bars ·Energy drinks ·Hersey kisses ·Teas and coffees ·Beer and liquor ·Coffee matte ·Protein powder ·Marshmallows ·Butter ·All baked foods ·Cream cheese ·Pop tarts ·Eggo’s ·Spiced almonds ·Reese’s peanut butter cups ·Yogurt ·Chipotle has a pumpkin spice burrito ·gum
· Candles ·Body lotion and powders ·Hair shampoo ·Soaps (yes I want to leave the house smelling like a pumpkin) ·Sweatshirts and t-shirts ·Mugs, glasses, flags ·Pet shampoo ·Pet treats ·YES there is even a pumpkin spice Halloween costume!
Now, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s pumpkin parade. But, I do feel the need to mention a few things about the pumpkin craze going around, yes you will still love pumpkin everything only with better choices. Now I feel compelled to mention the fact that all this pumpkin flavored stuff is just that, flavored. Most of the treats you find in stores with pumpkin spice or flavor have no actual real pumpkin in the ingredients. No farmers out in a pumpkin patch picking pumpkins to cook and add to your oreo cookies or muffins. Instead scientists in white lab coats are sitting in a room mixing and testing as many as 80 ingredients (not all of them are healthy) to make up the pumpkin flavor. It is much more cost efficient to make something that can sit on a shelf and be used time and time again year after year. Using fresh pumpkin will go bad very quickly costing the company a lot of money if it does not sell. Some companies will add traditional fall spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, clover to products to give the sense of pumpkin flavor without actually having it. This is because we associate these flavors with pumpkin therefore tricking our minds.
Many people don’t realize that real Pumpkin is full of nutrients that is healthy and tastes even better than the “fake” pumpkin. Sadly pumpkins are more often used for carving out scary faces, placed on the front steps or in a window until it rots and is then thrown away. Funny how fake pumpkin flavors are used to make foods and the real thing is used for carving Halloween faces. Pumpkin that is actually a fruit and belongs to the cucurbitaceous family along with melons, cucumbers and squash is full of essential nutrients and is low in calories that most people are missing out on. It can be made into many different recipes, breads, deserts, soups, chilies, smoothies, butters and dips and is a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition.
·One of the highest of fruits for antioxidants of vitamins C, A, E. ·They have the highest levels beta carotene which is converted to vitamin A at 246% of RDA. Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin and eyesight. Protects against age related macular disease in the elderly. ·Protects against certain cancers such as lung and oral cavity and heart disease. ·An excellent source for Flavonoid compounds. ·Great source for B-complex vitamins including folates, niacin, vitamin B6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid. ·Has a rich source of minerals including potassium, manganese, riboflavin, phosphorus, calcium and copper. The seeds can be roasted and seasoned for a delicious snack and are also a powerhouse of nutrients: ·Excellent source of fiber ·Mono-unsaturated fatty acids essential for good heart health ·Great source of protein, 100g is 559 calories, 30g protein ·Very high in Iron, 110% of RDA and 31% of RDA of Niacin ·Also a good source for the Amino acid tryptophan
How to cook pumpkin
Pumpkin is super easy to cook and you will have fresh delicious pumpkin to make delicious recipes with. The time it takes for pumpkins to cook varies depending on the size of the pumpkin. Also, you can cook and eat carving pumpkins but, the smaller ones are traditionally for eating.
·Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. ·Cut your pumpkin open and take all the guts out. Make sure you keep all the nutritious seeds ·Cut up the pumpkin in quarters and place on a cookie sheet. ·Add just a small amount of water on bottom of sheet so pumpkin doesn’t dry out. ·Bake anywhere from 20 min to 45 min depending on the size. Or cut in smaller pieces so they will cook quicker. ·It will be done when it is nice and soft and a folk will easily poke through it. ·Scoop it out with a spoon and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To cook the pumpkin seeds:
·Rinse off seeds and throw out the strings or guts attached. ·Let them dry for a few minutes ·Add your favorite seasoning, you can add a bit of olive or coconut oil if you wish but I don’t add oils (I used Mrs. Dash seasoning) ·Cook on parchment paper in the oven on 350 degrees for about 20 min, checking on then and mixing them up with a spatula until golden brown. ·Let them sit and cool for a few minutes, they will get crunchy.
The recipes over the next several weeks will include smoothies, breads, bars and biscuits. The first recipe in the first week of October will be a pumpkin pie smoothie. I have to do a smoothie sense; smoothies are part of my every day existence. Enjoy each one of them.