It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I am very late on the writing of the post, but I think it’s better late than never.  And we’re still in the midst of what I think is the most wonderful time of the year.  However, I have to admit, that commercialization of this season is really starting to get to me, and I almost faltered, not doing ANY pumpkin flavored recipes until this past week.  

That’s right!  Pumpkin season!  It’s here, but it’s not here to stay.  Even I am grateful for that.  But the reason I’m grateful it doesn’t stay for long and I still adore it so much is one in the same.  Because it IS pumpkin season!pumpkin spice

Before Starbucks announced Fall with Pumpkin Spice Latte, before there was even canned pumpkin, this special gourd announced the beginning of fall, the end of most harvests, but a promise of sorts that there could still be plenty of food throughout the winter.

Since I’ve changed many of my eating habits, I have started eating locally grown, clean, whole, organic foods.   When you eat local, you do end up somewhat pigeon-holed into eating what is available in the season.  But I don’t consider that a drawback!  Quite the contrary, actually.  Eating local, seasonally available foods brings out the flavor as well as its nutrients.  I get to binge on the best products for the specific time of year, and right now, it’s the season of the gourds!  Which means this time of year, pumpkins are readily available and the possibilities are endless.forrest gump pumpkin spice

I haven’t indulged in any pumpkin scones, or pumpkin beer, or even pumpkin pie (at least not the store bought kind).  But I have been enjoying some pumpkin recipes this week, and not to be completely smug, but they probably taste better than the store bought hyped-up pumpkin spice crap you get in the store anyway.

I really do despise the over-marketing of seasons that we as society are experiencing today  (I’ve had just about enough of the stupid Starbucks Coffee Cup War on Christmas fiasco!).  They have taken something that is representative of the season and just demolished its flavor and versatility to put it in EVERYTHING!  But it isn’t even truly pumpkin.  It’s pumpkin flavored, or pumpkin spiced.  There is a huge difference between celebrating the season with the foods and celebrating the season with food-like products.635505765501989830673825109_pumpkin-spice-burrito-elite-daily

So, how do you differentiate between the divine delicacies utilizing the power hour of the pumpkin, and all the hyped-up nonsense that exploits the season for their sales?  It’s pretty easy.  Michael Pollan said it best: “If it comes from a plant, eat it.  If it was made in a plant, don’t”.  If you are using fresh pumpkin, you’re good to go!  Pretty much anything else is probably a marketing gimmick filled with sugar, artificial flavorings, or just the “pumpkin spices”.  It’s not the real deal.spice girls pumpkin

And a note on canned pumpkin.  WHY would you eat canned pumpkin when there are hundreds of these gorgeous gourds right outside your door?!?!  Barbara Kingsolver spoke of this befuddling atrocity in her book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”.  In the story, she and her family dedicate to eating only food they produce themselves or get locally for a full year.  When it’s pumpkin season, she delightfully looks at some recipes, only to be sorely disappointed that the recipes call for “canned” pumpkin.  Fresh is always always always better!

Pureeing a large pumpkin can be a little time consuming.  I usually use smaller pumpkins to save time, and to use before it goes bad.  Cut the pumpkin into wedges.  You can save the seeds, but those suckers are a whole other blog post in and of themselves.  I cut the rind off and place the chunks of pumpkin in a large saucepan with just enough water to cover them.  Then I boil it on the stove for roughly 20 minutes, or until the chunks are soft in the center.  Let them cool down so it doesn’t melt your blender (or ninja chopper, food processor).  After they’ve cooled, I blend them until it’s smooth.  I may add a smidge of water if necessary, but they retain a bit from heating.  And then I use that pureed pumpkin for most of my pumpkin recipes rather than buying from the store.  Pretty sure it ends up being cheaper this way, too.

Here are some of the many ways I enjoy Pumpkin Season:

Clean Pumpkin No-Bake Cookies

NoBakePumpkinOatmealCookies_Final-768x1024
I’ll admit, mine never look quite so scrumptious when I’m done…
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 2 medium to large bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup raw cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. In a ninja chopper, grind up almonds, pecans, and spices.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat together the almond and pecan mix, pumpkin, bananas, sugar, and honey over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
  3. Stir in almond milk, oats, and vanilla.  Mix until uniform in texture.
  4. Place parchment paper in a square baking dish.  Pour mixture into pan and place in freezer for at least 2 hours before enjoying.

Paleo Pumpkin Pie
I’m still in the process of perfecting this one, but so far, it’s a pretty low calorie snack that I use before a workout to give me a great boost in energy

  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 T chia seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Slowly add all ingredients to a large bowl, mixing to make a uniform, smooth consistency.
  3. Line a cupcake baking pan with cupcake holders.  Spray or brush oil on each side to keep batter from sticking.  Pour batter into cupcake holders.
  4. Bake in oven at 325 degrees for 40 minutes, or until done (this is where I’m still working out the kinks, sometimes it takes 40-45 minutes, and once or twice it has taken actually over an hour to be done)
  5. Eat plain or drizzle more honey on top

 

Pumpkin SmoothieRaw-Pumpkin-Pie-Chai-Smoothie

  • 1 serving vanilla flavored protein powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tblspn honey
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  1. Put all liquids (including pumpkin and honey) into ninja or blender.  Add powder, spices, and ice cubes.  Blend until smooth, about 30-45 seconds.

Pumpkin Pancakes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cup almond milk
  • 2 small bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Combine all dry ingredients (flour-chia seeds) in a very large mixing bowl.  Create a sort of crater  in the center, and place the rest of the ingredients in the crater.  Mix just until there are no dry spots.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat, greasing or spraying the pan.  Pour batter and cook about 2 minutes, or until it starts bubbling in the batter.  Flip over and cook the other side for 1-2 minutes.

 

Pumpkin Curry
This is a brand new recipe for me, as I had a hankering for pumpkin curry so I looked up a recipe and tweaked it a little.  So, I consider this one a work in progress, but I really like where it’s heading!pumpkin curry

  • 2 cup pumpkin, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 cup broccoli, in small floret chunks
  • 1 cup sweet potato, cut into chunks
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 3 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 chili powder
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Thai basil leaves for topping
  • Cooked brown rice
  1. Preheat stove top to medium-high heat
  2. Steam pumpkin, carrot, and sweet potato for about 10 minutes.
  3. Place coconut milk and rest of ingredients after (garlic – sugar) in food processor or blender and mix well to create curry sauce.
  4. Pour curry into a wok or large skillet and bring to a boil
  5. Add pumpkin, carrot, bell pepper, broccoli, and sweet potato.  When curry is bubbling, reduce heat to medium or medium low and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add salt, sugar, or lime to your tasting.
  7. Scoop over brown rice and top with Thai basil leaves

 

Pumpkin (or any kind of winter squash) stewwinter squash stew

  • 1 lb chicken, or 2 pork chops, or 1 lb stew beef (or leave out if you want to go vegetarian)
  • One small pumpkin, or other winter squash (acorn squash, butternut, whatever)
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 carrots or parsnip
  • 1 turnip or rutabaga
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can choice of beans
  • 1 cup broth (chicken, beef, vegetarian, whatever floats your boat)
  • 2 cups kale or chard
  • 2 T oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp McCormick’s seasoning

Put all the ingredients in a crockpot, set on low and let cook for 8 hours.  Add more spice to taste.  Easy-peasy!

 

Because I don’t make these recipes year round, I feel they might have more significance to me.  It sorta makes me appreciate our ancestors and the Native Americans, who lived season to season and looked forward to the food available at different times throughout the year.  For that reason, I do have a lot of love for the pumpkin, even if it seems short-lived.

Having a relationship with your food makes a huge difference to your tastes, to the earth, and even your health.  So, have you hugged your pumpkin today?squashes-1_sm

2 thoughts on “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

  1. Great post! I find it extremely interesting how our separation from the earths natural cycles has become habit. It’s so “natural” for us to have all foods year round that it’s “second nature”. When we should just stick with the original nature.

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