Okay, well NOT everywhere, but quite a few in the kitchen, at any rate.
Today I roasted some pumpkins to use in various things this Autumn, as well as roasting their seeds for my husband. This is another thing, like the granola, that isn’t from my childhood, but rather something that I tried when I was a single mother working my way through college and my world opened up a bit beyond my Kickapoo Valley upbringing.
I love pumpkin. I love pumpkin pie, I love pumpkin tea, I love pumpkin soup. I stick it in whatever I can when pumpkins are in season, and not just because it tastes so good and lends such a nice moist denseness to many dishes. Pumpkins, and their seeds, are bursting with health benefits, surely making them from the tayyibaat!
Some Possible Health Benefits of Pumpkin:
1. It is a significant source of vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for the health of our skin and mucus membranes, which is triply important this time of year, with so many things attacking our immune systems. It is especially potent against viruses, such as measles. Vitamin A fights cancer, not only as a preventative but as a treatment. It is used in many topical situations as well, and is an important vitamin to make sure you get enough of!
2. Pumpkin has lots of fiber, which is crucial for your digestive system to be on track. One cup of pureed pumpkin has around seven grams of dietary fiber, which is about 1/10 of recommended fiber intake.
3. In addition to vitamin A, pumpkin contains vitamin E and iron, which are both important supporters of your immune system, among other things.
Some Possible Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds:
1. That immune system again! Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, which is important not just for immune system health, but for sleep regulation, prevention of depression and fatigue, prostate health in men, and more.
2. Magnesium- ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds contains almost half of the magnesium your body needs every day. Magnesium is beneficial for blood pressure regulation, blood vessel health, and tooth and bone health.
3. Pumpkin seeds (and pumpkin itself, actually) are anti-inflammatory
4. They are very beneficial for postmenopausal women, increasing HDL cholesterol levels, lessening the frequency and severity of hot flashes and headaches.
These are just some of the health benefits that have been reported to come from the eating of pumpkins and their seeds. While they are all pretty cool, the best thing about pumpkin, in my opinion, is the taste! Pumpkin puree can be added to breads, bars, and cakes. You can add puree to soup as well, but I like it in cubed- it is also a good addition to couscous or other vegetable dishes as well.
Here is how we roasted our pumpkins and seeds today:
First of all, bypass the big pumpkins sold for carving, and go for a sugar pumpkin. They are smaller, more tender, and have a much sweeter taste than carving pumpkins. If you can, you might want to try to grow some pumpkin in your garden- there are many beautiful and yummy heirloom varieties to be found, and you don’t need a lot of them to insure your pumpkin supply for fall.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Cut the pumpkins in half. I remove the woody stem, but I am not sure if you have to do this or not. I just picture it bursting into flame in the oven, and so avoid putting it in there!
3. Scoop out all of the stringy stuff and the seeds. Place them in a colander for later.
4. Rub the flesh of the pumpkin with oil- you could use olive if you like, but it does have a rather strong flavor. It would be fun to try walnut or macadamia nut oil if you have it, but I used sunflower today.
5. Place the pumpkins halves flesh side down on a baking sheet. Put it in the preheated oven, and pour a glass or two of water into the pan as well. I do it this way because otherwise the water sloshes over the sides and makes a mess.
6. Bake for 45- 50 minutes, until the flesh of the pumpkin is softened and a fork goes in easily. I always check them about halfway through to make sure there is still a little water in the bottom of the pan, but honestly, the water has dissipated and the pumpkin has still been fine
7. Let the pumpkin cool slightly and peel. The peel should come off very easily.
8. Save all that good pumpkin. If you have a lot, you can freeze it. If you want a pulp, more along the lines of the canned stuff, you can blender the pumpkin. I simply cube it so I keep my options open for later.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
You do this while the pumpkin is baking away happily in the oven.
1. Clean the seeds off very, very well. Don’t skimp on this step. Take the time to get all that pulp off of the seeds. It takes some effort, but makes a big difference in the end result.
2. Drain the seeds very well, or pat them off with a clean tea towel. Don’t worry about getting them all the way dry.
3. Put the seeds in a small saucepan with water to cover and a teaspoon or so of salt. Bring to a boil, and let boil for ten minutes.
4. Drain the seeds, pat them off again if you wish. I don’t, because I can never seem to find a tea towel when I need one!
5. Put them on a low sided baking pan or cookie sheet. Add a couple of teaspoons of oil. I use olive. Sprinkle with salt if desired. Pat them down so that there is not a lot of overlap between the seeds. Don’t be crazy on this, it’s okay if there is some, but in general aim for a layer of seeds.
6. When the pumpkin is out, lower the oven heat to 325. That being said, I have actually roasted the seeds at the same time as the pumpkin, just on the lower rack, and everything turned out well. Put the baking sheet with the seeds into the oven.
7. Bake for ten minutes.
8. Stir the seeds and pat them into a single layer again. I make sure to bring the seeds from the outside to the inside, and vice versa, as much as possible.
9. Bake for another 5 – 10 minutes. Check them for doneness after five minutes, so they don’t burn. The seeds SHOULD NOT BE BROWN!! The inner seeds should be a light golden color.
10. Store in an airtight container
Please share your favorite pumpkin recipes below. I love getting new ideas from you all!