Pumpkin: Beyond the Front Porch

Remember root cellars of yesteryear? Many were filled with hardy, late-season vegetables that kept our ancestors nourished over the winter; the vegetables included potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, parsnips, winter squashes and pumpkins.  Let’s consider pumpkin beyond today’s jack-o’-lantern.

Whole pie pumpkins, as compared to carving pumpkins, are available at this time of year for the kitchen adventurous.  Pie or sugar pumpkins tend to be smaller, sweeter, richer, less stringy and flesh-denser than carving pumpkins. They can be cooked and eaten like winter squash, such as acorn. Simply and safely split in half, remove the seeds and bake in the oven or microwave. 

Gratefully, pie pumpkin is readily available year-round for the less kitchen adventurous thanks to Libby’s who introduced canned pumpkin puree in 1929.  Canned 100% pumpkin can be used in soups, muffins, pancakes, cookies, smoothies and more. Canned pumpkin may include squash.  Look for 100% pumpkin on the label or for only pumpkin in the list of ingredients.  

Why add pumpkin to your life? It’s rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene (a phytochemical), which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Pumpkin is a good source of fiber and many minerals, and free in sodium and saturated fat. Plus, it has wonderful flavor.

Fun Facts: Check out History of Pumpkin Pie at https://www.history.com/news/the-history-of-pumpkin-pie.  

Crustless Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie (aka Pumpkin Custard)

3/4 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

2 large eggs

1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin

1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 325-degrees.  Prepare 9” round glass pie dish or 8” glass square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Prepare filling as directed on the can and pour into dish. Bake 55-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Eat immediately or refrigerate.  8 servings.

Tip: For 8” round or square non-glass baking pan, cook at 350-degrees 45-50 minutes. For 9” round or square non-glass baking pan, cook at 350-degrees 35-40 minutes.

Libby’s Pumpkin Soup with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 can (14.5 oz.) no-added-salt diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin

3 c. vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium if preferred

Salt and black pepper

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes or until tender.  Add diced tomatoes, chickpeas and oregano; simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.  Stir in broth and pumpkin; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes to develop flavors.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Servings: 6 (1-cup)

About Mary Lynne Hixson, MA, RD:

Mary Lynne, a registered dietitian, helps others enhance their health through the advocacy of nutrient-rich food choices and safe food-handling practices. Her expertise also includes counseling patients who have Type 2 diabetes and advising those who are in medically-managed weight loss programs. After her 35+ year career, she retired and became involved with the launch of Harvest of Hope Pantry in 2012 as a Board of Directors member. Mary Lynne is a weekly volunteer with Cultivate’s Carry-Out Caravan program, shopping and delivering groceries to seniors in the Boulder area, and also a frequent volunteer with Harvest of Hope.