After months of balancing beach time and blasting air conditioning, summer is ending. Now that you’ve scrambled to cook all the best warm-weather produce and fired up the grill a final few times, let’s give a (slightly less) warm welcome to the greatest season of all: fall.
Now, we understand that fall may not be everyone’s favorite time of year, but it does have some of the best foods and flavors (two words: pumpkin spice) plus cardigan-wearing-temperature weather. Just try to go apple picking while surrounded by colorful falling leaves without grinning from ear to ear. Here are five things we’re excited about this autumn, including finally giving that Dutch oven some lovin’.
Continue Reading Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice: 5 Things We’re Falling For This Autumn
This isn’t summer, folks. Gone are the easy days of slicing up raw cucumbers and tomatoes, sprinkling them with salt and calling it a meal. Fall vegetables take a lot more determination and know-how. Winter squashes —those vibrantly-colored gourds that double as centerpieces — are a case in point, with their intimidatingly hard shell. But once you crack your way in, delicious fall and winter dishes are yours for the making. So let’s eliminate those concerns:
How do I cut them? Use a sharp, large knife. Start to cut by placing the knife on top and giving it a good whack in the center of the squash. Cover the sharp end of the knife with a towel and rock the knife back and forth.
Continue Reading Squash Fears of Squash (and Make Awesome Squash Recipes)
Pumpkin-flavored lattes, cookies and just about anything else that could potentially be flavored with spicy pumpkin-y flavors are shoved in our faces from the day after Labor Day until (very similar to Cinderella) they disappear at midnight on Thanksgiving. But they don’t! Actual pumpkins are not always meant to taste like they’re going in a pie with cinnamon and nutmeg. When’s the last time you grabbed one of these hunky guys from the grocery store and just went to town? I’m talking about getting down and dirty with some winter squash, roasting it and adding it to some risotto, or making your own pumpkin puree because it’s seriously that easy. You know you want to.
Carved pumpkins are cute on your doorstep, but they turn out starchy and not super flavorful when you cook them. For cooking, you’re going to want pumpkins labeled pie, sugar or cheese, and the smaller ones tend to be sweetest.
The easiest way to prep your pumpkin, after carefully cutting around the stem to remove, is to scoop out the fibers and seeds, and either cut the pumpkin in half and roast, or peel and cut it into large dice and boil in water or chicken stock. Don’t forget to save the seeds! Rinse them off, removing any fibers, blot dry, then toss with some olive oil and spices before roasting (try these Spicy Pumpkin Seeds or Spiced Pepitas) for an addictive, crunchy snack.
So if you’ve already had it with the holidays (and it’s not even technically the holiday season yet) take a look below to remember why we love autumn. Because: pumpkins.
- Alton Brown’s Pumpkin Bread (pictured above) can easily be made into pumpkin muffins by switching baking vessels.
Continue Reading 25 Ways to Use Pumpkins
This will be my last post in the name of pumpkin mania. Really. But before I continue writing about other good-for-you (and not-so-good-for-you) foods, I had to answer the burning question: How bad are pumpkin lattes for you really? I mean, they’re becoming as big of a symbol of fall as apple pie. So how do they rank nutritionally?
The base of the pumpkin latte — espresso and milk, better known as a latte — is arguably not bad for you. Coffee in moderation has some health benefits. And milk has benefits, too, especially if you’re going for low-fat or nonfat (it delivers protein, calcium and some other vitamins).
Unfortunately, the thing that makes a pumpkin latte pumpkin-y is syrup. One variety of syrup that I looked at is made from condensed milk (pre-sweetened milk), two kinds of sugar (sugar and high-fructose corn syrup) and caramel coloring (which is linked to an increased cancer risk). A couple pumps of the stuff will add 106 calories and 24 grams of sugar (which is equivalent to 2 tablespoons of sugar!) to your latte.
It’s clear that the pumpkin latte is no health drink. But what really determines whether it takes a toll on your health and waistline is how big and how often your order it.
Size really does matter when it comes to sweetened beverages. Whether you choose skim or whole milk also makes a difference. A totally reasonable 8-ounce pumpkin latte with skim milk has 130 calories and 24 grams of sugar — some of which is from the natural sugars in milk. While a 12-ounce beverage usually clocks in at less than 200 calories (100 for milk, 100 for sugar), go up in size and you’ll start to see those numbers rise. A 16-ounce drink with whole milk has about 440 calories and 66 grams of sugar (that’s 5 tablespoons of sugar!). One more tip adds 60 calories, which might not seem like much, but it all adds up.
The second factor is frequency. Treat a pumpkin latte like dessert — a treat to have and enjoy once in a while — rather than make it your everyday coffee order (even if it’s just every day in the fall). Or you can take my route: Order your plain latte and celebrate pumpkin season with one of these healthy pumpkin recipes.
Kerri-Ann is a registered dietitian and nutrition coach who writes on food and health trends. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.
Pumpkin Pie Oreos by Half Baked Harvest
5 Hot Links We’re Loving:
- Behold homemade pumpkin pie Oreos by Half Baked Harvest.
- Brown Eyed Baker shows you how to roast pumpkin seeds with three tasty variations: ginger soy, maple chipotle and brown sugar spice.
- Chai spice makes everything nice, including these sweet potatoes by Tara’s Multicultural Table.
- The Kitchy Kitchen’s rich, fall-off-the-bone tender beer-braised short rib makes for the perfect banh mi.
- A Couple Cooks’ recipe for easy pumpkin hummus may just be the must-make dip of the season.
You carve them into jack-o’-lanterns, bake them into muffins and let them flavor your lattes. Yes, pumpkins are everyone’s favorite orange squash. And, drumroll, please: They’re good for you! (Except when it comes to the pumpkin spice lattes. There’s no real pumpkin in there — just sugar, and you know that’s not good.)
What exactly are pumpkins?
First things first; Pumpkins are a type of winter squash, a class of vegetables related to cucumbers and melons. You can bake or steam sliced or cubed pumpkin, or you can use unsalted canned pumpkin in recipes — an easy way to get this nutritious veggie into your diet.
Continue Reading Health Benefits of Pumpkin
Keep your carving pumpkins for Halloween while you turn sugar pumpkins, a petite and sweet variety, into a creamy pasta sauce. They’re easy to slice open and roast (save the seeds for snacking) and can be used to blend into sauces, sliced up and served with other roasted vegetables or turned into homemade pumpkin puree. The puree of 1 small sugar pumpkin should work out to equal one 15-ounce can.
Continue Reading Fall Fest: Easy Pumpkin Cream Sauce
Vegetable lasagna is highly underrated. I find that layering textured vegetables in between melted cheese and pasta creates a comforting casserole that stands well on its own. There’s also so much more variety than your standard meat-and-tomato-sauce lasagna. The vegetables can be interchangeable depending on the seasons, and you can use a tomato sauce or a creamy white Bechamel sauce. On a limited budget this summer, I regularly cooked vegetable lasagna studded with red pepper, summer squash and mushroom, and this carnivore became an instant believer in the vegetable lasagna. In fact, I stopped calling it “meatless lasagna” altogether, as if something was lacking in them. I think they are more properly described as, “hardy, cheesy, vegetable-laden lasagna.”
Continue Reading Fall Fest: Pumpkin and Winter Squash Lasagna
Our season-long garden party Fall Fest 2012 welcomes food and garden bloggers to feature garden-to-table recipes and tips. We’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Fresh this week: pumpkin.
Pumpkins make great jack-o-lanterns but before you toss all those stringy insides and slimy seeds, take a look at these tasty recipes that put pumpkin insides to good use.
1. Pumpkin Patch Mash (pictured above)
Skip mashed potatoes as a side dish for dinner tonight in favor of mashed pumpkin. Cook boiled pumpkin with cream, butter and brown sugar and mix until smooth. Top with crispy fried pumpkin seeds and a sprinkle of brown sugar.
Continue Reading Fall Fest: Pumpkins Are For More Than Just Carving