From pancakes to pastries, to coffees, microbrews and more, America’s penchant for pumpkin is back with a vengeance. Call it an obsession; call it an “orange crush.” Whatever it is, pumpkin has us by the gourds.
You know it’s yummy, but pumpkin—the real kind, from the source—is also packed with healthy antioxidants and vitamins A and C, iron, fiber, potassium and other essential nutrients. One cup of fresh pumpkin weighs in at just 50 calories with zero fat.
You can easily make your own fresh, pumpkin puree and incorporate it into a variety of recipes in place of canned pumpkin, as well as roast and eat the seeds. And it’s easier than you might think.
Ready to carve up some fun? Here are step-by-step instructions on how to use a whole pumpkin—tried and tested by The Health Journal staff.
• Choose your pumpkins. Mid-sized pie pumpkins work best for baking.
• Using a knife or pumpkin carving tool, vertically cut around the stem so it can be easily removed.
• Lay the pumpkin on its side and, using a large knife, cut it in half lengthwise.
• Scoop out the stringy pulp and seeds and place in separate bowl.
• Turn the two halves cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool.
• Scoop the pumpkin from the rind, place in bowl and allow to cool completely.
• Meanwhile, separate the pumpkin seeds from the pulp. This can be tricky, so try running them under water in a colander and massaging out the seeds from the large sections and discard the pulp. Place seeds and leftover bits of pulp in a bowl of cold water and let sit 1 minute. Using a large slotted spoon, skim the seeds off the top and place on a paper towel lined plate to dry, picking out any last remaining bits of pulp.
• Season the seeds to your taste (see our suggestions below) and then bake them on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees F for about 1 hour, tossing every 20 minutes.
• Place cooked pumpkin in a food processor and puree until smooth. Use this cup for cup in place of canned pumpkin in all of your favorite fall recipes. You can easily make soups, baked goods, smoothies, side dishes and more—the possibilities are endless.
Pumpkin Pie Recipe: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/classic-pumpkin-pie-10000000549931/
Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread: http://www.sunnysideupsd.com/2011/09/pull-apart-cinnamon-sugar-pumpkin-bread/
Pumpkin French Toast Bake: http://minimalistbaker.com/pumpkin-french-toast-bake/
Whole Grain Pumpkin Banana Nut Bread: http://livlifetoo.yummly.com/2012/09/pumpkin-banana-nut-bread.html
Pumpkin Pie Graham Cracker Dip: http://www.cookingclassy.com/2012/09/pumpkin-pie-dip-a-5-minute-recipe/
Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars: http://www.cookingclassy.com/2013/09/pumpkin-pie-crumb-bars/
Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce: http://www.handletheheat.com/tortellini-with-pumpkin-alfredo-sauce
Skinny Starbucks Pumpkin Frappuccino: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/08/27/skinny-pumpkin-frappuccino/