It’s That Time Of Year
Pumpkins, Pumpkins everywhere. I love Fall and the changing of the leaves. I just don’t like what follows, the dreaded winter. Here in Michigan, we have horrid winters. Cold, runny noses, flu, and all sorts of respiratory infections associated with winter, not to mention allergies.
Did you know the benefits of eating Pumpkin? All lot of people do not realize how good these large orange things that we make into Jack O’ Lanterns are for you. They are also in the Gourd Family. I will explain……
Health Benefits Of Pumpkin
- Vitamin A...This helps in vision. One cup of mashed pumpkin will give you more than 200% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A. This Vitamin is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body to maintain the integrity of skin and mucous membranes. Researchers are discovering that natural foods rich in this vitamin can actually help to protect against lung and oral cancers.
- Carotenoids and Beta-Carotene…. These give the pumpkin their bright orange color and also the body converts into a form of Vitamin A, which adds additional protection. The same free radicals neutralizing powers of the Carotenoids also helps keep the skin protected from wrinkles and may reduce cancer cells. Minerals included are copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
- Weight Loss…Pumpkins contain fiber which is often overlooked as a good source for weight loss. Eating a diet high in fiber makes you full longer. 3 grams per one cup serving and 49 calories is a great alternative to high-calorie foods.
- Pumpkin Seeds...They are rich in plant-based chemicals, phytosterols. These have been shown in studies to reduce LDL, or what is known as the bad cholesterol. Also, the plant sterols in Seeds have been linked to fighting off Certain Cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in the famous amino tryptophan, which is also found in Turkey, This amino acid is important because it encourages the production of Serotonin which is responsible for your mood. Just a handful of Pumpkin Seeds can give you a bright outlook to your day.
The Seeds also are a great source of Dietary Fiber and Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids which are good for Heart Health. They are concentrated sources of Proteins, Minerals, and health- Benefiting Vitamins
- May Reduce Cancer Risk….According to the National Cancer Institute, Pumpkins have a high amount of Beta-Carotene. Most orange vegetables and gourds have Beta-Carotene, like carrots, sweet potato, and butternut squash, to name a few. Food sources of Beta-Carotene are much better than the supplement. So ingesting it is far better.
- Potassium…One cup of cooked pumpkin has a whopping 550 milligrams. Compared to the banana which has 400. Pumpkin is beneficial after a hard days work to replenish the loss of Potassium due to strenuous work or when working out.
- Boosts Your Immune System...With more than 25% of Vitamin C, one cup of cooked Pumpkin could help ward off that cold.
- Flavonoid Poly-Phenolic Antioxidants….such asLutein, Xanthin, and Carotenes in abundance.
- Dogs And Cats Will Benefit… Can dogs eat Pumpkin Seeds? YES, We are talking about the shelled ones. Do not give your dog or cat the baked salted ones.
If You realize how good Pumpkin is for your dog or cat ,you would probably feed it Pumpkin every day. Pumpkin and its seeds are known to help with Digestion, Urinary Tract, and Weight Loss. You can give it raw, cooked, or canned. A good daily dose could be a handful of seeds a day for dogs, Cats, of course, will get less, Grind these in the grinder and mix with food. Canned or cooked can be served same way, mixed in food. If they happen to like the flavor, use for treats. I will include a recipe for treats in my Recipe Section.
Canned Pumpkin Nutrition Facts
Amazingly, canned Pumpkin has basically the same amount of nutrients as fresh. Although the added salt and preservatives are present in canned Pumpkin, it still has the same vitamins and minerals as fresh Pumpkin.
You may want to consider planning on canning your own Pumpkin now that you know how good it is for you. Pumpkins are in abundance in Sept and Oct every year so that would be a good time to plan for canning.
Pie Pumpkin or Carving Pumpkin For Cooking
This is a subject that has gotten much controversy. I have used both Pie and Carving Pumpkins when I cook.
Pie Pumpkins are much smaller and denser with mostly flesh on the inside. Varieties include Sugar, Baby Bear, and Baby Pam to name a few. If you want a nice thick pie, I personally suggest using a pie specific Pumpkin. Although you can still use any Pumpkin for pie, I would say that regular or carving Pumpkins are not as dense and have more water content. To remedy this for pie cooking or any other dish, cut the Pumpkin flesh from the inside and lay it flat on a dish, or a bowl, set it in the fridge for a couple hours to drain the water from the flesh, pour out the water that collects in the bottom of the dish, and cook as you would for a pie. This process will give you a thicker pie even when using a carving Pumpkin. Also, add a little more sugar than the pie recipe calls for since carving Pumpkins, or large Pumpkins are not as sweet as the dense, smaller ones.
Carving Pumpkins are larger and have less flesh and somewhat hollow. These can also be used for Pies, but are better for soups, stews, bread, and cobblers. As I described above, these larger Pumpkins have more water in them so you need to set cut Pumpkin covered in the fridge for a couple hours to drain excess water from them since they are not as dense as a pie Pumpkin. The Pumpkin seeds Nutrition Facts and Pumpkin Nutrition Facts are the same for all kinds and forms of Pumpkins.
Preparing Pumpkin for Cooking
Never buy pieces of Pumpkin that were already cut from the store. The reasons are possible ways of contamination. You want to cut and prepare your Pumpkin whole.
Picking your Pumpkin
Choose Pumpkins with skin that has no bruises or wrinkling. A perfect Pumpkin sounds woody when knocked and is firm, not squishy. The outside should be smooth with ridges also firm. The color is not important, as some Pumpkins can be different colors. A ripe Pumpkin seems heavy for its size. Pumpkins can be stored in a cool place for up to two months.
Slice Pumpkin in half using a sharp knife. Separate the internal flesh and set aside to pull seeds out later.
Baking Method for Pumpkins
In a baking dish lay the Pumpkins cut side down and cover with foil. If you are using a large Pumpkin, cut into smaller sections to fit on a cookie sheet.
Another way is set Pumpkin whole after you scooped out stringy stuff with seeds, on a baking dish, slice Pumpkin sections to let out air while baking. Even though the top is removed, you need to place slits along Pumpkin to release air from under the skin.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours at 375 degrees, depending on the size of your Pumpkin. Cook until tender. Remove from oven and scoop out insides until all that’s left is skin. The skin removes easily when fully cooked, so you could just peel the skin off if you want larger pieces. Now you can chop, puree or mash it for the recipe you are using.
Boiling Method for Pumpkins
Peel a halved Pumpkin and cut into chunks. Cover with boiling water and boil until tender. Drain and chop, puree or mash it for the recipe you are using.
Separate the seeds from the membrane inside. Some people like to leave some of the bits of Pumpkin on their seeds, some prefer to wash them. Either way is fine.
Roast seeds on a baking sheet sprinkled with sea salt, at 350 degrees for 15 minutes checking every minute after 10 minutes. Open oven and stir if necessary for cooking seeds evenly. If you have a lot of seeds and used a deeper pan, stirring every few minutes for a bit longer until seeds are browned all over.
Seeds are good for one week in a tightly sealed container.
Fry Seeds in 1 Tbsp olive oil. Stir until seeds start popping. Or 1 Tbsp of sugar to caramelize seeds and sweeten them. Use the seeds to eat or garnish salads and soups. There are many dishes you can add Pumpkin seeds too.
Seeds Without The Shell
You can buy seeds for Pumpkins to grow yourself that have no outer shell when harvested. You simply cut the pumpkin and pull out seeds that are ready to eat. Amazing, Huh?
Kakai Pumpkin is one variety of Pumpkin that has no shell around the seeds.
Other varieties include Styrian, Lady Godiva, Streaker and Eat-all. After harvest, (This is the fun part) just cut open the pumpkin and you’ll find green, tender seeds. Use the rest of the Pumpkin for whatever you are planning. Make sure you eat or freeze the Pumpkin, It is so good for you.
You can buy these varieties at your local seed store or click on one of the seed suppliers that I support on the sidebar of this article. Burpee is my favorite. Direct seeds are also a good resource for these and many other hard to find seeds. Please visit either one of these.
Now, it’s time for Recipes
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Recipe
This is a delicious Recipe that can be used with fresh or canned Pumpkin.
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
3 1/2 Tbsp Cold water
Mix together the flour and the salt. Cut the shortening in with a fork or a cutting tool.till flour is gritty looking. Then add water until it looks like dough. Put on floured surface and roll out into a shape just larger than your pie pan. Use flour when needed to keep dough from sticking to the table surface or roller.
Roll dough in roller and transport it to the pie plate and align with edges sticking over the edge of the plate. Trim off excess and shape using fingers or decorate with scrap pieces of dough that have been cut into shapes. Attach securely by using drops of water on the back of the cutout pieces.
I personally recommend using a homemade crust, but if you are not comfortable or this is your first time, you can buy crust already made or sticks of crust that only needs to be rolled out. I make my dough very easily with my KitchenAid. If you are interested in learning about my favorite machine of all times, read my review >>HERE<<<. I use my KitchenAid for just about everything I cook when I am making homemade food. It is a good investment and makes everything easier. With all the attachments available and new ones coming, this machine is a powerhouse and pretty much necessary for home cooking and preserving.
Pumpkin Pie Filling
2 1/2 cups mashed cooked Pumpkin.
(If this is a little watery, let set and drain for awhile. The mashed Pumpkin should be dense, not watery. This is where the difference in a regular carving Pumpkin and a Pie Pumpkin will show its difference. Make sure you mashed Pumpkin is very thick. You can also add a little cornstarch, mixed with 1 Tbsp water)
1 (12 oz. can) evaporated milk
2 eggs (beaten)
3/4 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp of each of the following
Pinch of allspice
pinch of cloves
Beat all ingredients together and pour into pie crust. Fill to the top just under the outer crust. About 1/2 inch from top
Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. pie is done when a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
This recipe can be doubled or tripled if you are making multiple pies.
Serve Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream. Yummy
Easy Pumpkin Cobbler
This recipe is so easy, I picked this one especially for my beginners. Try this, you will love it.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 cup sugar
3 eggs (beaten)
4 cups mashed Pumpkin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup melted butter
Mix everything together, except the yellow cake mix and butter.
Grease a 9×13 inch pan
Pour mixed ingredients in pan.
Sprinkle the box of yellow cake mix evenly over top of mixture.
Pour melted butter over top of yellow cake mix, being careful that it doesn’t pool in one spot, move around as you drizzle it.
cook for 50 to 60 minutes. Serve warm with Ice cream, Drizzle brown sugar or caramel sauce if you want. It’s also just fine by itself. Enjoy
Simple Pumpkin Soup
This soup is delicious. I am also adding a recipe for the garnish which is also hearty and has staying power which helps fill you up and lasts longer than just plain soup.
This recipe is also great if you are vegan and is gluten free.
2 1/2 cups Pumpkin Puree, This can be done in a blender or a KitchenAid. Read the review >>HERE<<
2 shallots diced
3 cloves garlic minced
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup lite coconut milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)
1/4 tsp of each…Black Pepper, Sea Salt. Cinnamon, Nutmeg
In a large saucepan over medium heat put 1 Tbsp olive oil along with shallots and garlic. Heat till translucent and slightly browned. If it is cooking too quickly, turn heat down so you don’t burn it.
Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Use an emulsion blender to puree the soup ingredients, You can do this while it is still in the pot. Or if you don’t have an emulsion blender, pour soup in a blender and puree it, then transfer back into the pot. Having an emulsion blender for this would make it so much easier. I will put up a picture and where you can buy an inexpensive one if you would like to try one out.
Continue cooking over low heat for 5-10 minutes. You can adjust the taste at this point by adding more spices if needed.
Pour into bowls and serve. This will serve 3-4. So you can double or triple this recipe as needed.
Homemade bread and fresh butter taste awesome with this soup, also toasted bread with butter.
Kale Garlic Sesame Topping (Optional but suggested)
1 cup roughly cut kale
1 large clove garlic minced
2 Tbsp raw sesame seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
In a small skillet over medium heat dry toast sesame seeds for 2-3 minutes being very careful, they can burn fast. Stirring frequently until a light golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
In the same hot pan, add olive oil and garlic and saute until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Add kale and toss, cover to steam another few minutes until kale is limp. Add sesame seeds back in. Toss to coat and set aside for topping soup.
Decorative Bowl For Serving Guests Pumpkin Soup
If you are entertaining and need a nice touch to your Pumpkin soup, I have an awesome idea for you. Trust me, it’s a hit, and your family or friends will love it.
Nice, thick soups are generally consumed in colder months. Though you can enjoy it all year long. Traditionally Pumpkin soups were served around holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Pumpkin Serving Bowl
Select a pumpkin that is more round than tall. It should have a bright orange outer skin along with very few imperfections. None is better, but sometimes not easy to find.
Cut the top of the Pumpkin off, a little bigger than a traditional carving Pumpkin hole. You want a slight lip but a more exposed hole.
Scoop some of the flesh out after removing the membrane inside with all the seeds. Be very careful not to take too much out since it needs to be sturdy. Make sure you leave most of the flesh of it in the center and bottom. Some Pumpkins may need very little removed depending on how large the inside cavity is. It should be large enough to hold 6-8 cups of soup.
Clean outside of the pumpkin and wipe the outer skin with olive oil to shine it up.
Place Pumpkin on a serving dish to carry it with. Must be sturdy and cover whole bottom of Pumpkin and maybe a little room for garnish if you wish.
Pour Pumpkin soup in the Pumpkin and let sit for a few minutes to make sure it will hold up. Have the Pumpkin on the serving dish before you fill it.
Single Serving Bowls
You can also make single serving bowls out of small pumpkins. Bake single serve pumpkins till almost tender, place a couple Tbsp butter in the bowl before baking. Fill with soup after cooked. You can eat the soup and the pumpkin inside like you would a squash.
Sprinkle the Garlic, Kale, Sesame seeds on top or garnish with a few Tbsp of maple syrup drizzled on top with toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on top over maple syrup.
Pumpkin Dog Treats
2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix ingredients until blended, Don’t make me talk about my KitchenAid again. You know by now how I feel about my powerhouse.
Spread dough to 1/4 inch thick.
Cut into desired cookie shapes
Bake for 10-15 minutes
Stays good in the fridge for up to 7 days. Do not give to your pet if left in the fridge longer than a week.
There are many ways to preserve Pumpkin by freezing.
Cooked and mashed in a zip lock bag. Lay flat when freezing. Freeze in quart bags.
Prepared Pie.For cooking later. Wrap in saran wrap. Make sure no air between pie and wrap. After pie is frozen, remove and wrap again tightly with aluminum foil and then another layer of saran wrap.
Bake Pumpkin Bread. After it is completely cooled, wrap in aluminum foil, then wrap again tightly in saran wrap. Try to make at least 10 loaves to freeze. Do it while Pumpkins are aplenty. You will be glad you did when friends come over and enjoy a loaf of Pumpkin bread that tastes freshly baked. The secret is in the way it is wrapped. Trust me on this one. That is how I wrap all my loaves and pies.
Home Canned is a NO NO
In no way should you ever can Pumpkin. The many reasons why not to can be found in many publications. First off, the viscosity, PH level, and water activity will not work. No form of Pumpkin can be safely canned using a water bath, or pressure cooker. More information and a better explanation can be found at Living Homegrown
Thank You for reading this post. I really enjoyed writing it. I hope now you will try some of these ways to eat and preserve Pumpkin. It is really good for you. Let’s try to incorporate more healthy foods into our diet, and this is a very good one.
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I appreciate any comments and shares. Any questions? Just ask. I will answer all questions you may have about Pumpkins and whatever is written in this post.
Thank You and Have a Bountiful Day
Founder of bountifulharvesting.com
National Cancer Institute
Mom and Grandma