Everything you need to know about PUMPKINS!
Jack-o-lanterns, Halloween décor, & pie are just some popular uses for pumpkin. This year, spice things up! Learn more about pumpkin and try new ideas that will keep the seasonal celebrations healthy, fun and festive!
Did you know?
- Pumpkin is native to the Americas! It’s a fruit and member of the gourd family. Some of its close relatives include various melons, cantaloupe, cucumber and zucchini. U.S. farmers grow more than 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin each year! In 2010, the heaviest pumpkin weighed in at 1,810 lbs 8 oz in Minnesota!
- Carving jack-o-lanterns actually began hundreds of years ago in Ireland! The tradition derives from old Irish folklore and used to be celebrated by carving devilish faces into potatoes and turnips. Irish immigrants started using pumpkins as they discovered the fruit was indigenous to America.
- Pumpkin is super rich in nutrients, especially Vitamins A & C! Not only can pumpkin boost the value of any seasonal dish, its pulp can actually be used to make hair and face masks! Combine pureed pumpkin with a touch of honey, milk, and finely chopped almonds to create an exfoliating face mask or use a mixture of it with coconut oil for a conditioning hair repair!
To begin your pumpkin-crafting adventure, choose the appropriate tools. A large spoon and a few sharp utility knives are all you need to prepare your pumpkin!
Follow these simple steps:
- Cut around the outline of the lid at an angle.
- Remove the lid and stem.
- Use the spoon to scrape out the seeds and pulp.
- Proceed to craft your pumpkin in one or more ways!
Channel your inner creativity to use pumpkin as seasonal décor! Small pumpkins can be a great accent piece in the home. Use a scooped out pumpkin as a candleholder or a vase to showcase your mums! If you like to paint, show off your skills to design a decorative serving bowl.
Utilize every part of the pumpkin. The pulp, the flesh, the seeds and the plant are all edible and nutritious. You can try topping a salad with roasted pumpkin seeds. Whip up a sweet pumpkin puree to enjoy with yogurt or in a soufflé. If you’re looking for a quick pumpkin fix, take advantage of canned pumpkin puree. Since it is canned at peak freshness, the puree has all of the same nutrients that whole pumpkin has to offer.
Don’t be afraid to spice up your pumpkin. It tastes great with lightly sweet and warming spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, and curry powder. Try this Savory Pumpkin Soup!
Savory Pumpkin Soup
Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (*or 4 cups pumpkin, peeled and diced)
- 2 cups chicken broth, low-sodium
- 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk, fat free
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp fresh sage, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- In a medium-sized stockpot or large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic, celery and onion. Sautee until onions soften.
- Stir in chicken stock, coconut milk, and pumpkin puree. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
- Add curry powder, chili powder and cinnamon and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.
(*If using raw pumpkin, simmer until pumpkin softens. Use a blender to puree in small batches)
- Serve soup with roughly chopped leaves of sage.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 250 Calories, 10 g Protein, *15 g Fat (5 g Saturated), 22 g Carbohydrate, 4 g Fiber, 13 g Sugar (No added sugar), 664 mg Potassium, 180 mg Sodium
(Substitute 1 cup fat-free half & half or 1½ cups low fat/soymilk for evaporated milk to trim off some extra calories from fat. You may need to add sweetener to taste)
Article & Recipe by Domenica Toscani, Nutrition Intern & Educator