söndag 15 november 2009

Pumpkin for Every Occasion

By Ken Kudra

In some parts of the world, the word 'pumpkin' refers to any winter squash, such as acorn, butternut, or Hubbard. In the United States, 'pumpkin' refers specifically to a certain kind of squash with an orange skin and orange flesh. It is most commonly used for Halloween decorations and to make pumpkin pie during the holidays.

Both the seeds and flesh of the pumpkin are edible and can be used in many recipes. The seeds are full of zinc, which is a mineral that is necessary for good health. Add the roasted seeds into cereals, snack mixes, breads or just eat them as a snack. If you have tasted pumpkin pie and butternut squash, you have a general idea how the pumpkin flesh will taste. This vegetable can be made into both savory and sweet dishes your family will love.

Pumpkin can be roasted whole to make a lovely vegetable dish. You can also make sweet breads using pumpkin. Add some cranberries for a holiday flair. Pumpkin butter makes a delicious change of pace on your morning toast. It is a smooth spread that can also be used on sandwiches, or add a large spoonful in your morning granola with a bit of yogurt for a new breakfast treat. Do not forget to add in some delicious toasted seeds as well.

Use pumpkin to make rich cakes, muffins, and cupcakes. Their spicy goodness is always welcome. Make a pumpkin roll with cream cheese filling to have for the holidays. It tastes great and looks pretty! Pumpkin cheesecake is a seasonal favorite in many places and it is easy to find in the fall and winter. Use pumpkin in cookies and pudding too. All of these recipes are great ways to get more pumpkin in your diet.

Try a pumpkin soup recipe for yet another delicious way to use this versatile food. Pumpkin soup can be made so it is creamy or spicy. Try it roasted for a delicious sweet flavor. Use it as an appetizer for a formal meal or as a complete meal. Improve your presentation by adding a dab of crme fraiche on top or try sprinkling on some toasted pumpkin seeds for a little crunch.

Chunks of pumpkin can be added to rice or pasta. Make a rich pumpkin risotto for something a little different. Make a filling from pumpkin to use in ravioli or other stuffed pasta. Mix it with other vegetables like greens or fennel for a delicious side dish. Try mixing it with polenta and cheese for a new dish. Pumpkin is full of beta-carotene and many other vitamins and minerals. Adding this vegetable to your menu helps your family get these needed nutrients to remain healthy.

Have pumpkin for breakfast by making pumpkin pancakes, muffins, scones, or donuts. This versatile vegetable easily makes the transition from savory to sweet without a problem. Serve the pancakes with a whipped cream topping or maple syrup. You can even add cooked crumbled bacon to the batter before cooking the pancakes.

If you like dessert but you want something a little less sweet, try pumpkin ice cream or tarts. Adding pumpkin to your meal helps your family get the flavor of the season and get all their nutrition at the same time. Give the humble pumpkin a try.

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