The leaves are FINALLY changing here in Texas (even though the temps are in the mid 70s) and we're only a day away from Halloween, so the veggie education gals & I thought it appropriate to focus on a yearly October favorite this month: pumpkin!
October Veg-ucation: Pumpkin
Similar to last month's vegetable, butternut squash, this vivid orange member of the squash family (cucurbita to be specific) has hundreds of varieties and is grown all over the world. The most popular here in America are the pie pumpkins, jack-o-lantern pumpkins and mini Jack-Be-Littles. Basically, the ones that you can easily carve into for Halloween and bake for a Thanksgiving feast.
Although you can grow pumpkin almost all year long (if the weather is warm enough), they appear in huge piles in early fall, which is a good time to roast fresh pumpkins to make homemade pumpkin puree. However, during autumn when pumpkin-mania is in full force, canned pumpkin is readily available and many folks reach for those since it's quicker.
Perks of Eating Pumpkin
Whether you're opting for freshly roasted or canned pumpkin, there are lots of health benefits to consuming it! The peel and flesh's vivid orange hue is a tell-tale sign this veggie is loaded with antioxidants--beta carotene to be specific. But there's more!
- excellent amounts of vitamin A, K and fiber
- good amounts of vitamin C, E, potassium and iron
- low calories and is filling
To learn more about the health benefits of pumpkin and winter squashes, read here.
A New Way to Eat Pumpkin Puree
Two of my favorite ways to use pumpkin puree this time of year is in my pumpkin-apple harvest muffins and pumpkin spice lattes with homemade vanilla almond milk.
But I've been hankering to try something new for awhile now. Something harnessing the best autumn spices (homemade pumpkin spice, duh!) and using less sugar. Super sweet versions of pumpkin butter kept appearing in my pinterest, facebook and google plus stream this past month, but I was turned off by the cups of sugar and and apple juice in the recipes.
A Naturally Sweetened & Spiced Seasonal Fare
So I decided to make my own less sweet version using a natural, unrefined sweetener--grade b maple syrup--and it turned out beautifully! As I mentioned on my facebook page, I couldn't even wait for the pumpkin butter to cool off completely before taste testing it, so I burnt my tongue. But it was totally worth it!
And now I have a slightly sweetened, warmly spiced pumpkin "butter" to spread onto toast, muffins and biscuits or stir into oatmeal. Or, to be perfectly honest, eat straight from the spoon! Right after I stick my face in the jar and take a big whiff. Mmm...cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom...
Four Other Awesome Pumpkin Recipes
After you're done reading through the pumpkin butter recipe, check out these delicious pumpkin recipes posted by the other vegetable education circle members:
- Grain Free Stuffed Pumpkin by Trisha of Eat Your Beets
- Baked Pumpkin Custard by Katja of Savory Lotus
- Spiced Pumpkin Seeds & Nuts by Allison of The Sprouting Seed
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chili by Laura of Storybook Reality
- How to Make Vanilla Extract with Vodka & Bourbon
- How to Make Coconut Milk with Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
- Creamy Pan-Fried Plantains with Cinnamon, Cardamom & Maple Syrup
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk
- Banana Applesauce Skillet Bread with Apple Chunks & Flaxseed
I'd like to hear from YOU!
What's your favorite food to pair with homemade pumpkin butter?
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