Halloween is over, but pumpkin season most certainly is not! Pumpkins are considered a winter squash, which means that they are harvested in the autumn but last all the way through the winter season. This is a great way to get fresh vegetables on to our plates in the colder months. In fact, in the past (before freezers, canned goods and imported foods), pumpkins and other winter squashes were an essential item in the kitchen to making it through the winter with enough food.
Today, we most commonly know pumpkins for pumpkin lattes and jack-o-lanterns. As it turns out though, those lattes are flavored with sugar and artificial flavoring, and no pumpkin at all. And our Halloween decorations, which are hybrid pumpkins known as Aladdin pumpkins, were developed particularly for their ability to be carved instead of for the purpose of being eaten.
While carving pumpkins doesn’t make a great meal, their seeds (and the seeds of all pumpkins varieties) are still widely used and full of nutrients. So let your students carve their pumpkins, but encourage them to roast, toast or sprout those seeds too!
Try using pumpkin seeds for seed butter, in a trail mix, as a topping for salads, soups, desserts, and cereals or grind it up to be used in dressings or put in a flour mix.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with:
- High Iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, zinc, potassium, folate, niacin and selenium
- Healthy fats
- Antimicrobial properties (antifungal and antiviral)
There are now over 40 varieties of pumpkins that vary in color, shape, size and texture. Larger pumpkins tend to have a stringier and bitter quality compared to the smaller, sweeter ones used in most recipes. While jack-o-lanterns aren’t meant to be eaten, there are many pumpkins that are. Some varieties often used for cooking are labeled as Pie Pumpkins or Sugar Pumpkins, Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, Lumina, Ghost Rider, Cinderella. Fairy Tale, Jarrahdale, Peanut, Lakota, and Cow Pumpkins.
These all generally have a similar taste, but their key notes and texture do differ. For a fun activity to do with students, purchase a couple different types of pumpkins, roast them, and see if your students are able to tell the difference in taste between them. Then see which ones they think would be better used in pies, in soups and other applications.
I doubt you are going to find any pumpkin that will turn into gold and become your midnight carriage ride like Cinderella, but here are some ways you can use pumpkins: in pies, breads, smoothies, roasted to be thrown in quinoa, salads or a vegetable medley, put in soups and stews, used as a cooking and serving vessel (ditch the bread bowl, try a pumpkin bowl!). Really, the options are limitless.
Encourage creativity from your students to see if they can come up with an idea of how pumpkins can be used in an entrée of each meal, as an appetizer, side dish, dessert, as a snack and in a beverage.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
- 12 oz Unsweetened almond milk
- 5 dates, rough chop
- ½ cup Winter Luxury Pumpkin, cut in half and gutted
- ½ banana
- 1 tsp Maple Syrup
- ½ tsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover the pumpkin with foil and roast until it is tender enough to pierce with a fork. Allow the pumpkin to cool.
- Scoop the pumpkin meat from the skin. Put ½ a cup of pumpkin into the blender and set the rest aside to use for more smoothies.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender and puree until smooth.
- Pour into a cup, sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon and enjoy!
- 1 Long Island Cheese Pumpkin (or other pumpkin suitable for stews), gutted and
- kept whole (reserve ¼ cup pumpkin seeds)
- 32 oz vegetable stock
- 6 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 large carrots (orange, white and purple if possible), rough chop
- 2 yellow pepper, medium dice
- 2 red onions, rough chop
- 2 large poblano peppers, medium dice
- 1 cup white beans, dried and soaked over night or longer
- ¼ cup scallions, minced
- 3-4 tbs chili powder
- 1 tbs sage powder
- 2 tbs olive oil
- Salt, 1 tsp
- Pepper, 1 tbs
1. Soak the beans over night, thoroughly rinsing before using.
2. Preheat the oven to 425
3. Cut around the stem of the pumpkin so that it can be gutted while keeping
the rest of the pumpkin intact.
4. Rinse pumpkin seeds and set aside. And toast with on a dry pan until they
start to brown. Let cool.
5. Lightly coat the inside of the pumpkin with 1 tsp olive oil and let roast until
the inside is soft enough to be easily penetrated with a knife. (About an 1-1.5
hrs- times vary depending on size and type of pumpkin used)
6. Place the tomatoes with the cut side face down in a pan with 1 tbs of olive oil
on medium heat. Once the juices start to leak out, flip over and allow to cook
for another 5 minutes.
7. Let the pumpkin cool enough to touch and without cutting through the skin
of the pumpkin, cut around the inside walls of the pumpkin to remove the
meat. Leave a thin layer of the pumpkin meat on the walls so that the
pumpkin is strong enough to be used as a serving vessel.
8. Add the vegetable stock and tomatoes. Puree the ingredients using a blender
or immersion blender.
9. In a stockpot, sweat the onions with a small amount of olive oil.
10. Once translucent, add in the carrots and peppers for 5 minutes, occasionally
stirring. Add in the garlic, Once the garlic starts to brown, add the chili
powder, pepper and sage and transfer the pureed mixture into the pot and
bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
11. Add the beans.
12. Meanwhile, shell the pumpkin seeds. Add the remaining amount of olive oil
and the rest of the chili powder. Toast on light heat until crunchy.
13. Once beans are tender, add the salt and remove from heat.
14. Pour the chili back into the pumpkin shell.
15. Sprinkle scallions and pumpkin seeds on top of the chili.