Welcome to my favourite season of the year; AUTUMN! I can feel my blood pressure lower just thinking of colourful leaves gracefully falling to the ground, listening to the crunch of happy feet as joyful youngsters walk through leaf piles in their front yards, and visions of jack-o’-lanterns flickering on porches.
Pumpkin has always been a staple in the autumn kitchen, but in I challenge you to take a better look at this amazing, vitamin packed, all natural food, and re-think its versatility in your cleaner-eating lifestyle.
My 5 year old recently asked me if pumpkin was a fruit or vegetable; good question! I had to stop and think before I answered her. Mostly pumpkin is associated with desserts or sweet treats; making it seem more like a fruit but in fact it is a member of the squash family.
Pumpkin beta-carotene content
The bright orange colour of pumpkin gives away that it is jammed pack with beta-carotene. This anti-oxidant has been linked to helping ward off certain cancers. Although pumpkin is not a high source of fiber, it is packed with vitamins A & C and is fat free!
The nutritional breakdown of pumpkin makes this vegetable a wise, raw choice in baking. And did you know that it can be used instead of fat in many of your favourite recipes?! My mouth is watering just thinking about the possibilities!
Freeze pumpkin pie filling, can I?
Unfortunately fresh pumpkin is not available year-round. Although canned options are available, why not bake and freeze your own pumpkin for baking and cooking throughout the year? It is one of the easiest things I have ever done in the kitchen… really!
How to prepare pumpkin for freezing
Carve open and hollow out your pumpkin as if you were making a jack-o’-lantern. At this point, try roasting the seeds for a healthy snack or to use in other recipes such as home-made granola bars.
Now simply cut the pumpkin in pieces or large “chunks” and place skin-up on baking sheets. Bake in the oven like any squash until a fork easily slides out through the skin.
After removing the pumpkin from the oven and it is completely cooled scoop out the pulp with a spoon into 1/2 cup or 1 cup freezer bags. Using a straw, remove all of the air out of the bag as it is being sealed and write the date on with a permanent marker.
You are now well stocked with portions of pumpkin ready to use in your favourite recipes including soups, cookies, muffins, and yes, even the occasional pie. Natural, and preservative free pumpkin… gotta love it!
How to make pumpkin pie from raw pumpkin
Want to learn to make pumpkin pie completely raw? Check out the video below: