Let’s start with one of my new favorite fall recipes, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread. The pumpkin gives all of the warm and fuzzies of fall. The chocolate is optional, but it makes a wonderful addition to this fabulous dessert bread.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
- 1½ cups all-purpose gluten free flour such as Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea or Himalayan salt
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- ½ cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- ¼ cup avocado oil
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cups chocolate chips (semi sweet or dark), optional
- 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350⁰F.
- In a bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt.
- In a second bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, eggs, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract; mix well.
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until moistened.
- Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.
- Pour into a greased loaf pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool completely before removing from the loaf pan and slicing.
But why pumpkin…
American Indians cultivated pumpkins before colonists arrived in America. In fact, pumpkins were one of the Europeans’ first crops back from the New World. Historians believe that during the first Thanksgiving feast, pumpkin may have been on the menu but as a savory dish.
Fun facts: American Indians made pumpkin peel rugs and colonialists used pumpkin halves as a guide for haircuts.
Pumpkin’s Edible Parts
Pumpkin harvesting happens in the fall, but it can be enjoyed all year.
The best type of pumpkins to eat is the smaller variety. The larger pumpkins, best for carving, are typically less sweet and stringy.
Almost all the parts of a pumpkin are edible. The blossoms, the young greens (cook like spinach), the flesh (even raw), and the seeds are entirely edible.
Pumpkins are the most nutritious among gourds per calorie content. They are less sweet than butternut, sweet dumpling, delicata, or kabocha varieties.
Pumpkins are high in antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, copper, zinc, other trace minerals, and essential fatty acids.
Pumpkin seeds are harvested easier in the large variety of pumpkins used for carving.
After carving a pumpkin, most of the “guts” are thrown away. However you can keep the seeds, roast them, and shell them for a nutritious snack or meal pairing.
Pumpkin seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition, rich in protein, alpha-linolenic acid, zinc, selenium, and copper.
They are naturally high in the amino acid tryptophan, the precursor to melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.
Eat hulled seeds raw or roasted. You can enjoy them over yogurt, oatmeal, bread, cookies, or dips. Also, you can grind the seeds to create dips and dressings, or enjoy them as seed butter.
Raw Pumpkin Pulp
Pumpkin pulp is edible raw or cooked, grated or pureed. Use raw pumpkin in salads, mix in yogurt or cottage cheese, or replace carrot or cucumber sticks with pumpkin sticks when dipping in hummus.
Cooked pumpkins taste earthy and slightly sweet. Pair the earthy pumpkin tones with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cardamom.
To promote the sweet notes of pumpkin, pair it with maple, brown sugar, and vanilla. I prefer extra dark brown sugar. It has a higher molasses content, leaving the taste both smokey and sweet. To sweeten pumpkins without extra calories from sugar, try monk fruit or stevia.
To balance out the sweetness, add acids from balsamic vinegar or bourbon.
Pumpkin is a great flavor enhancer and sugar replacement in savory dishes like soups, stews, and pasta sauces.
Not only is pumpkin delicious, but it is also high in soluble and insoluble fiber. The fiber in pumpkins promotes satiety, healthy blood sugar, cholesterol, and regularity.
Since pumpkins contain high levels of vitamins A, C, and zinc ( all antioxidants), it supports the immune system by balancing free radicals.
Pumpkin Beauty Bar
Most cosmetic counters contain some products with pumpkin oil or even pumpkin fruit extract. Rich in vitamins A & C, pumpkin stimulates collagen production and tones and brightens skin.
Interestingly, pumpkin fruit contains enzymes that promote gentle (biochemical) exfoliation. Pumpkin seeds are used in many scrubs for (mechanical) exfoliation.
Alpha-linoleic acid derived from pumpkin seeds is on the ingredient list of many beauty creams worldwide.
Pumpkin as a Medicine
Pumpkin contains many phytonutrients, or plant chemicals, beyond nutrients that provide the following qualities:
Pumpkin, along with other gourds, squashes, and marrows, is highly nutritious and may be used medicinally.
Some say pumpkins are even magical; cue the Cinderella carriage scene.
Pumpkins contain a wealth of nutrition and provide over 100 plant chemicals that fight against diseases and promote wellness and beauty.
Since pumpkin is high in fiber, slowly try a few servings per week.
Pumpkins are very nutritious but so are other gourds, squashes, and marrows. Remember to diversify your diet by trying several varieties. The next time at a farm or pumpkin patch, pick up several types to try.
Happy Fall, Y’all!