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From jack-o’-lanterns to pies: Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere

Written By | Oct 16, 2017

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 16, 2017 – Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere – in grocery stores and piled high at farmers’ markets, community pumpkin patches and parks – signal the beginning of the fall season and the advent of Halloween.

(photo by Sutton Porter/courtesy of Laurie Edwards-Tate)

At our homes, transformed into traditional Halloween jack-o’-lanterns, pumpkins are deftly carved into frightening faces that glow eerily at night from the candlelight flickering deep within them.

But pumpkins are far more than the fascinating orbs so frequently used as the basis for seasonal displays. They represent a $145 million dollar U.S. industry, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The United States is among the top five pumpkin-producing countries in the world.
As a member of the Cucurbitaceae family of melons and cucumbers, within the genus Cucurbita of squashes and gourds, pumpkins are natives of North America.




“We fancymen are individuals; so are pumpkins; but every pumpkin in the field goes through every point of pumpkin history” — Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Adorned with sturdy stems and boasting brightly-colored shades ranging from yellow to orange, pumpkins are filled with an abundance of carotene, lutein, antioxidants, vitamin B-complex and minerals, and they have no saturated fat.

Pumpkins serve as an excellent main ingredient in breads, pies, pancakes, custard, ravioli, souffles and soups. Roasted pumpkin seeds, known as pepitas, are enjoyable as nutritious snacks.

There are many additional ways in which pumpkins can be prepared and consumed. Some of the many ways to enjoy them are offered at nutritionandyou.com.  But pumpkin pie has to be the most favorite way to eat pumpkin!

Pie pumpkins are smaller, sweeter, less grainy textured pumpkins than the usual jack-o-lantern types and they can be found at farmer’s markets, grocery stores, even Home Depot had boxes of them. An average sized pie pumpkin, eight inches in diameter,  gives you is about equal to a can of pumpkin.Just like selecting any squash, look for one that is firm, no bruises or soft spots, and a good orange color.

When choosing your pumpkin, look for one that is firm, no bruises or soft spots, and a good orange color.

The following is a healthy sugar-free pumpkin pie recipe.

Ingredients

  • A pie pumpkin
  • 1 cup Stevia (prepared form, like Truvia) or Splenda (Do not use Aspartame based sweetners)
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • one half teaspoon ground ginger
  • one half teaspoon salt (optional, I don’t use any)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups pumpkin glop (ok… “sieved, cooked pumpkin”)
  • 1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk (I use the nonfat version)

Equipment

  • A sharp, large serrated knife
  • An ice cream scoop
  • A large microwaveable bowl or large pot
Wash the exterior of the pumpkin in cool or warm water, no soap. Carefully cut the pumpkin in half and scrape the insides.  Remove the “guts”, the stringy, dangly stuff that coats the inside surface.  I find a heavy ice cream scoop works great for this.
Remove the stem, and put the pumpkin into a microwaveable. You may need to cut the pumpkin further to make it fit.  The fewer the number of pieces, the easier it will to scoop out the cooked pumpkin afterward.
“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie.” – Jim Davis

You want to get out that stringy, dangly stuff that coats the inside surface.  I find a heavy ice cream scoop works great for this.




Roasting a perfect pumpkin side dish and seeds


Remove the stem, and cube the pumpkin to fit into a microwaveable bowl or vegetable steamer, add water to steam. Microwave in 10, then five, then 2-3 minute bursts until fork tender but still very firm.  Let cool to handle.  Either scoop out the meet or using a boning knife, carefully remove the skin. If you want to cube and roast the pumpkin, you will want to peel the skin versus scooping.

Depending on the size of the pumpkin, if you want to cube and roast some of the meat, you will want to peel the skin versus scooping.

The pumpkin is now cooked.  If the pumpkin, once pureed seems to be too wet, let it sit in a strainer to allow excess water to slough off.

Once peeled, or scooped, blended to a smooth consistency, adding the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, eggs, sweetner, salt, ginger and evaporated milk to 3 cups of the strained pumpkin.

Either make or purchase a pie crust, fill, bake at 425 F (210 C ) for the first 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350 F  ( 175 C ) and bake another 45 to 60 minutes, until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Have plenty of fresh whipped cream (real cream not dairy topping) on hand!  Garnish wish sprinkles of cinnamon and chocolate.

 

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Pumpkins are not only delicious favorites of humans. They are also useful in veterinary medicine. Pumpkin is often prescribed as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats when they experience digestive distress. Poultry are often fed pumpkin during the winter months as a supplement to their regular feed.

With the oldest known evidence of pumpkin seeds being found in Mexico, dating back to 7000 to 5500 B.C. according to Wikipedia, this wonderful squash is here to stay, delighting generations with its substantal richness and healthy properties, not only at Halloween but throughout the entire fall season.

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Laurie Edwards-Tate

Since 1984, Laurie Edwards-Tate has served as President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare, a non-medical Home Care Aide Organization, serving seniors, disabled, infirm and children. Laurie is Board of Director 2018 (elected), Palomar Health; Executive Board Member; Chair Board Human Resources Committee; Member of Audits & Compliance Committee; Community Relations Committee.