Pumpkin Primer

Wait!  Don’t send your pumpkin to the compost pile without extracting the fleshy goodness inside.  There are a variety of ways to use pumpkin,  the least of which is in baking.  The moisture is absorbed beautifully by whole grains, making the end result moist and tender.

Pumpkin is highly nutritious and most noted for its seeds, which are full of protein and EFAs (essential fatty acids.)  But the meat itself also has many health properties. It helps prevent cancers, cataracts, and regulates blood pressure.  Key nutrients are calcium, iron, magnesium and beta-carotene, which explains why it prevents visual impairment.

Your recipe will determine the preparation of the pumpkin. For baking I prefer to roast it to bring out golden, caramel flavors. The best pumpkins for baking are sugar pumpkins which tend to be a little smaller than the ones we use for carving.  To bake, cut in half and scoop out all the pulp and seeds (save those for toasting.)  I sprinkle a splash of olive oil on top and bake at 350 until tender (which could take up to an hour.)   Once cooled, you will have enough for the following recipe, and maybe more for a vegetable curry.

Pumpkin Muffins

2 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ C unsalted butter
¾ C Sucanat or brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C fresh or canned pumpkin (you can also use sweet potato)
1 C chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans are best)
Pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare two muffin tins with liners.

Whisk together first seven ingredients in medium bowl.

Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping sides and bottom of bowl.  Mix in vanilla and pumpkin.  Add dry ingredients, blending gently until moist.  Stir in nuts.

Scoop batter into muffin cups and top each with pumpkin seeds.  Bake until toothpick comes out clean, approximately 22-24 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on rack for five minutes before removing muffins from pan.

>>Let me know if you have a favorite recipe for toasting the seeds!