Every year, between now and halloween, tons of pumpkins are sold. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Centre, approximately US$148.9 million worth of pumpkins were sold in 2012 alone. Many of these pumpkins get tossed or smashed at the end of the season.
Tossing away pumpkins is wasteful. And by waste, I don't just mean the landfill where most of them end up. Throwing out pumpkins is also a huge waste of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Pumpkin flesh is delicious and it's seeds are incredibly rich in magnesium, zinc, omega 3, antioxidants and amino acid. It's also the only alkaline-forming seed which means it's great for balancing out our highly acidic western diets.
Cooking with pumpkin tends to work best with sugar pie pumpkins (the little ones) because big pumpkins tend to have very stringy insides that are difficult to puree. Most recipes require that you puree the pumpkin before cooking it. This involves removing the seeds and baking, boiling or microwaving the remains.
How To Make Pumpkin Puree For Cooking
1. Cut the pumpkin in half and carve out seeds and stringy flesh
2. Brush the inside of the pumpkin with oil or butter
3. Put the two halves on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 1-1/2 hours or until the flesh is soft.
4. Carve the flesh from the outer skin and mash or blend in a blender
Once you have pumpkin puree you can make anything from soup to smoothies to cookies. There are virtually endless ways to use pumpkin from breakfast through to dessert. Here are some personal favourites:
Skinnytaste.com has a ton of healthy pumpkin breakfast ideas. From Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes
to a Pumpkin Oatmeal Shake
, to Pumpkin Spiced Granola
. If you don't have time for breakfast these no-bake, on-the-go Granola Bites
from Gimme Some Oven are also great.
With the weather cooling, soup only makes sense. This Spicy Pumpkin Soup
from Healthy Recipes Blogs is a great way to warm things up, while this Pumpkin Stock
can be used for basic soup broth or for cooking quinoa or rice.
The seeds hold most of the nutrients so whatever you do, don't discard them. Just add oil and salt and bake at 375F for 15-20 and you have a nutritious snack.
Roast Pumpkin and Kale Lasagna
. Need I say more? This superfood-packed dish is like a nutrient bomb. Not to mention, it's lasagna. Awesome.
Pumpkin pie is great and all, but there's so much more that pumpkin can bring to the table. Maximize your nutritional value with Pumpkin Carrot Cake
Pumpkin is nutritious, delicious, and vastly wasted. So do yourself and the environment a favour this fall and eat a pumpkin or two.