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Pumpkin Spice, and Everything Nice!

Pumpkin Spice, and Everything Nice!
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Pumpkin Season, Pumpkin Spice Season; well ok, . . . actually Autumn! My favorite time of the year. Cooler temperatures, crisp air, leaves crunching under your boots, fresh apples, and pumpkin everything!

Pumpkin Nutrition

I am a pumpkin addict! And here’s the good news: pumpkin is actually very nutritious! A one cup serving has only 49 calories and contains about 245% of the USDA recommended daily amounts of vitamin A. Yes! You read that right, . . . . and it’s not a typo–245%! It’s also loaded with Potassium (more than bananas). So go ahead; indulge in this seasonal favorite.

Almost ALL of the pumpkin plant is edible! The seeds can be roasted and flavored lots of different ways and are extremely nutritious on their own. (Make sure to save a few seeds for growing next year’s pumpkins!) The leaves from the pumpkin plant are edible as well. The large ones can be a bit stringy, but chopped finely and added to a pan with a bit of butter and garlic—they are the least bitter of the greens. The flowers that will eventually form pumpkins, are also edible and add an unusually beautiful touch to salads, or they can be stuffed and fried.

Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin spice—that flavor that seems to permeate all of our favorite drinks and dishes in the fall of the year, is actually a mixture of spices—there is no pumpkin in it. You can buy this already mixed in your grocery—it’s sold as ‘pumpkin pie spice’, . . . . or you can make your own mix at home!

Pumpkin Spice Mix

Makes 6 Tbs. Makes 1 Tbs.
8 parts Cinnamon 3 Tbs. 2 tsp.
1 part Ground ginger 2 tsp. ¼ tsp.
1 part Ground cloves 2 tsp. ¼ tsp.
1 part Nutmeg 2 tsp. ¼ tsp.
1 part Allspice 2 tsp. ¼ tsp.

**You can also add other spices to customize the mix: try mace, star anise, cayenne.

Customize your mix! I really love the slight heat you get from ginger and I love the scent and taste of cloves, so my personal mix is heavier on those spices.

Don’t mix more than you can use—dried and ground spices lose their potency after about 6 months to a year.

More good news about these spices that we all love– Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice are actually good for you! All of these spices contain elements that help to combat viruses and bacteria. They also can aid with things as varied as toothache, indigestion, and normalizing blood sugars!

Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree—How to Roast a Pumpkin

You can eat any variety of pumpkin but if you want to make pumpkin puree, choose a small ‘pie pumpkin’ for best flavor and texture.

1. Cut in half and scoop out seeds.
2. Bake cut-side down
3. Bake @ 450 for 45-60 minutes.
4. Scoop out cooked flesh and mash.

Cut pumpkin in half, scrape out seeds (save these for roasting later!). Brush cookie sheet lightly with oil. Place pumpkin halves cut side down on tray. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 45 -60 minutes. The larger the pumpkin, the longer it will take. Outer skin will be soft when done.

To make the puree:  cut your roasted pumpkin into chunks and transfer to a blender, food processor, or use a stick blender. If the puree is too ‘wet’, cook on low to medium heat until the excess moisture has evaporated. Cool and use just as you would the canned variety. If you want to preserve it, freezing in recipe sized portions is the safest method.

No space to grow your own pumpkins? Shopping with local farmers is a very ‘homestead’ thing to do!

15 Easy Ways to Get More Pumpkin into Your Diet

  1. Stir pumpkin puree into pancake batter. Pumpkin adds a wonderful moistness to baked goods. Don’t forget the pumpkin spice mix for a delightful autumn treat!
  2. Add ¼ cup of pumpkin puree to ½ cup of Greek-style yogurt. Add in honey to taste, pumpkin spice mix. Top with a few toasted pumpkin seeds, granola, pecans, etc.—this makes a good dip for apples!
  3. Stir a bit of pumpkin puree into your favorite hummus—make from scratch or just stir pumpkin puree into plain hummus from the store.
  4. Mix pumpkin puree with mashed potatoes. This takes plain everyday mashed potatoes to the next level! (Pumpkin doesn’t always have to be sweet!)
  5. Make homemade pumpkin butter (like apple butter—not actually butter, more like a loose jam).
  6. Make pumpkin pesto. Mix pumpkin puree, pecans, garlic, parmesan cheese: combine in a blender and add a drizzle of olive oil. Toss with your favorite pasta.
  7. Pumpkin alfredo sauce—make your own, or stir into pre-made alfredo sauce.
  8. Add some to your favorite mac-n-cheese recipe (yes, even the boxed kind).
  9. Add it to your favorite chili recipe.
  10. Add pumpkin puree to dry vanilla pudding mix. Top with whipped cream & pumpkin pie spice for dessert or a great dip.
  11. Try 2 ingredient pumpkin muffins. Mix 1 spice cake mix (or other flavor of your choice) with 15 oz. can pumpkin puree. Bake @ 350 for 18-20 minutes. This works really well with chocolate cake—your kids will never know!
  12. Add pumpkin to overnight refrigerator oatmeal.
  1. Try a pumpkin pie smoothie. Blend together: 1 banana, ½ C pumpkin puree ½ C yogurt, honey to taste, 1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice mix, few ice cubes.
  2. Pumpkin Pie Dip: Mix together 8 oz. softened cream cheese, ½ cup pumpkin puree, honey and pumpkin spice mix to taste. This is great with graham crackers and fruit.
  3. Make your own pumpkin spice coffee creamer. Mix a bit of pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice mix and sweetener to taste into heavy cream or half and half. Heat the mixture to blend all the spices. Use to taste in your favorite coffee! (If you don’t like the graininess of the spice blend in your cup, strain out the grains with a coffee filter first.)

A Hygge Moment with Pumpkin Spice

Yum! Fresh baked pumpkin bread and pumpkin butter!

What is hygge? It’s a Danish concept conveying the feelings we get in tiny little calm, perfect moments. A ‘hug’ so to speak. Think cozy, warm, friends and family. For me, Autumn is full of hygge moments. Is there anything better than a walk in the woods wearing a cozy sweatshirt followed by a steamy mug of pumpkin spice latte on a chilly autumn morning?

What’s your favorite way to eat pumpkin?

 

Make a new garden bed and grow your own pumpkins!

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