Fall is upon us and I know this not just because of the weather but because I see pumpkins popping up everywhere. Tell tale sign that fall is here. Originating in the ancient Americas this member of the Curcurbitaceae family, which also includes, cucumbers, melons, and gourds is actually a fruit. It’s seeds, flowers, & leaves are edible as well as the fruit itself. It is 90% water and contains nutrients including lutein and both alpha and beta carotene, as well as dietary fiber. These gourds are grown all over the world and are part of many culture’s cuisines. The only continent that it isn’t crown on is Antarctica! Cultivated for human consumption as well as feed for livestock it is also grown for ornamental purposes. The Native American’s relied on it as a nutritious winter food source and the Pilgrim’s were said to make beer from it (surprise)! In the late 19th century Halloween was turned into a celebration with an emphasis on neighborhood activities and bringing the community together (I love this!!!) Activities included of course carving of the Jack O’ Lanterns which have a history in legend themselves, but in short are thought to ward of any evil spirits that might be roaming around. The largest pumpkin grown to date weighed over 1800 pounds!
Pumpkins are extremely versatile in the kitchen as well. Literally any thing can be made with pumpkin, soup, vegetarian entrees, desserts, breakfast, lunch and dinner…you name it pumpkin can do it.
Here are just a few of my favorite recipes using pumpkin… (even dinosaurs like the Fall Granola Bars!)