Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween décor, although their bright orange color blends nicely and is as eye-catching as the changing leaves of the season. We love them as jack o’ lanterns or as framing the sides of our front door step, but let’s talk about the ways pumpkins are a versatile food for our healthy dietary purposes.
Pumpkins include many varieties and shapes, sizes, and colors. They are characterized by a rounded shape and yellow to orange color (and some are even white!). Most of us are familiar with the popular carving pumpkin that is ubiquitous during Halloween. It is called the C Pepo and can weigh as much as 100 pounds.
Pumpkins have a long history going back many centuries. It is estimated to date as far back as 7,000 BC, possibly with its beginnings hailing from Mexico and Central America. Pumpkins are a fruit growing on vines spread across the ground. After about 90 to 120 days, easy-to-grow pumpkins reach their full size and are harvested in October.
These orange fruits have wonderful versatility and flavorful nutritional value. The uses for pumpkin span into soups, pies, muffins, breads, and even risotto and pasta. Its flesh has no cholesterol, is low in fat and sodium and rich in vitamins, especially beta carotene and vitamin A. The seeds are wonderful, too, if removed and toasted in the oven.
The pumpkin is often underrated as a useful ingredient. It will surprise you in its diversity as a main course or dessert and even for breakfast. Have your family awaken to the aroma of fall with the following pumpkin pancake recipe:
PUMPKIN PANCAKES WITH MAPLE SYRUP AND NUTMEG WHIPPED CREAM
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups milk
3 large eggs
One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
Maple syrup for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 200° F. Line a baking sheet with two kitchen towels stacked on top of each other and place in the oven. This will keep your cooked pancakes warm.
2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, cloves, ginger and allspice together in a large bowl. Whisk the milk, eggs and pumpkin puree together in another bowl. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, and stir until ingredients are just incorporated and batter is thick (it’s okay if there are some lumps). Let the batter rest for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream and nutmeg until stiff peaks form. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Ladle a heaping ½ cup of the batter into the skillet, spreading it into a 6-inch round. Cook until pancakes are golden on the bottom and bubbly on top, about 1 minute 30 seconds. Flip the pancakes and cook until the second side is golden brown and the pancake is cooked through, about 1 minute 30 seconds more. The first few pancakes may seem sticky and hard to flip, but the pancakes will become easier to flip as you cook more of them.
5. Transfer the pancake to the baking sheet in the oven, tucking it between the two kitchen towels. Repeat with the remaining batter to make more pancakes.
6. Place 3 pancakes on each plate and garnish with nutmeg whipped cream and pumpkin seeds. Serve with maple syrup.
NOTE: Measure the flour by spooning into a dry measuring cup (not by scooping directly from the flour bag) and leveling off the excess.
Recipe from The Food Network Kitchen, 2016