Hands Held High for the Pumpkin

Photo by: Liz West

National Pumpkin Day is October 26th, but November is unofficially Pumpkin Tribute Month. Pumpkin is loaded with cancer-kicking beta-carotene, and it can be buttered, souped, breaded, smoothied, and baby fooded. In honor of the “large melon” (“pumpkin” in Greek) — the largest, by the way, was grown by a Wisconsin farmer and was the size of a dumpster — here are a few reasons to stock up on pumpkin purée and celebrate.

PUMPKIN-APPLE BUTTER
Makes enough for addicts and their neighbor for 1 month

10 crisp apples (such as Granny Smith), cored and chopped into large chunks
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée (or about 2 cups cooked and puréed fresh pumpkin)
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon each: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Plan on using a blender or food processor so you don’t have to peel the apples, making this recipe extra simple and higher fiber than the average American. If you’re doing this by hand, peel the apples, and mash the mixture with a potato masher once it’s cooked.

Place all ingredients in a large pot (covered) and cook on med-high heat until the apples are super soft, about 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to cook until about 80% of the liquid has disappeared, about another 20 minutes. Let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes, and then blend or process until smooth.

Enjoy it on toast or pancakes, as a dip for apples, or my daily way: in a peanut butter-apple-pumpkin-butter sandwich.

Store this beauty in the fridge.

PUMPKIN BREAD
Makes 1 loaf

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée (or about 2 cups cooked and puréed fresh pumpkin)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
1 2/3 cups flour (i like to do half all-purpose and half whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves

Mix sugar and wet ingredients together. Mix dry ingredients together. Combine them. Grease the loaf pan and bake 350 degrees for 65 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing or removing from the pan.

MEXICAN PUMPKIN STEW
Serves 6

Serve this in a scooped out pumpkin for a festive fall meal.

3-4 cups of small chunk (1/2-inch) raw pumpkin or butternut squash, or 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin purée
1 cup vegetable stock
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup salsa
1 1/2 – 2 cups frozen corn (about 1 medium-sized bag)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3-4 drips of hot sauce (optional)
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 15-ounce can red kidney or pinto beans
salt and pepper to taste

If using fresh butternut squash or pumpkin, simmer them in the vegetable stock until tender. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered over low heat for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

PUMPKIN SMOOTHIE
Makes 1 8-ounce smoothie

1/2 cup pumpkin purée
1/2 cup vanilla soymilk, almond milk, or other vanilla non-dairy milk
1/2 cup crushed ice
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice

Blend and enjoy. It’s like pumpkin pie in a glass!

How do YOU best pay tribute to the Godly gourd?

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