Friday, November 13, 2009

Pumpkin for Every Occasion

By Ken Kudra

Pumpkins are a specific type of squash in North America that is usually orange in color. In some places, however, any winter squash can be called a pumpkin. While this may be a bit confusing for those of us in North America, it is refreshing to know that there are more things to do with a pumpkin than carve it or make it into a pie.

Both the pumpkin seeds and the flesh are completely edible. The seeds are a great source for zinc in your diet. They can be roasted and enjoyed as a snack or as an addition to yogurt, breads, cereals and lots more. Anyone who has tasted butternut squash or pumpkin pie will have an idea of what pumpkin tastes like. It makes a great sweet or savory dish.

Pumpkin can be roasted whole to make a lovely vegetable dish. You can also make sweet breads using pumpkin. Add some cranberries for a holiday flair. Pumpkin butter makes a delicious change of pace on your morning toast. It is a smooth spread that can also be used on sandwiches, or add a large spoonful in your morning granola with a bit of yogurt for a new breakfast treat. Do not forget to add in some delicious toasted seeds as well.

Make pumpkin into cupcakes, muffins, and cakes. Pour the batter into a jellyroll pan to make a flat cake. Use cream cheese filling and roll it up for a yummy pumpkin roll. Pumpkin cheesecake is a common fall offering in many restaurants and grocery stores. Try making your own instead... it is not difficult. Use pumpkin in cookies and puddings to add more of this tasty vegetable to your diet.

Classic pumpkin soup is a delicious way to enjoy pumpkin. The creamy goodness is a great appetizer or you can make it a complete meal. Add some spices, or make it with roasted pumpkin to add even more flavor. Top it off with some chopped herbs or a swirl of sour cream to make it look as wonderful as it tastes.

Pumpkin is great to add to rice or pasta dishes. Try some delicious pumpkin risotto or make a filling for ravioli out of pumpkin. Mix chunks of pumpkin with other vegetables and make a roasted veggie dish. Mix pumpkin with cheese and polenta for something new. Pumpkin is full of vitamins like beta-carotene. Add more to your seasonal dishes and help boost your immune system for winter.

Have pumpkin for breakfast by making pumpkin pancakes, muffins, scones, or donuts. This versatile vegetable easily makes the transition from savory to sweet without a problem. Serve the pancakes with a whipped cream topping or maple syrup. You can even add cooked crumbled bacon to the batter before cooking the pancakes.

If you like dessert but you want something a little less sweet, try pumpkin ice cream or tarts. Adding pumpkin to your meal helps your family get the flavor of the season and get all their nutrition at the same time. Give the humble pumpkin a try.

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