It is officially fall in Southwestern Ontario. The cooler temperatures have rolled in and as I type, I have a blanket over my shoulders and a cup of hot tea within fingers' reach. Fall has always been one of my favourite seasons. While some prefer the hot steamy weather of the summer, I prefer the cooler days and nights that fall brings with it, which allow me to throw on my favourite pair of jeans and a warm hoodie, cozy up on the couch and watch some end of the season baseball! Come on Jays!
Another way that I know it is fall?
My pantry at home is full of all the canning that we were able to do from the summer harvest from our garden. (And the freezer is full of fruits and vegetables too)!
Aside from the cool temps and amazing landscapes of coloured leaves that this region provides at fall, the next best thing in my books is the seasonal harvest of 'fall' fruits and vegetables, which includes PUMPKIN!
There is a great deal more to a pumpkin then simply carving it out for the 31st of October!
Pumpkin has so much potential for use in both sweet and savoury dishes, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I'm sure I will post a few more recipes before the season is over... ahem, pumpkin pancakes!!
And did you know that pumpkin is a vegetable! Woot Woot! (BONUS! You can think of Pumpkin Pie as essentially being Vegetable Pie for Thanksgiving).
Here's a few more fun facts about our friend the pumpkin!
- Pumpkins are a part of the genus cucurbita (gourd family) which can be broken down into 4 major categories or species, comprising the majority of all pumpkins and squashes. (1)
- Have you ever served pumpkin as a side vegetable with your supper? Cook it up just like you would a squash, but choose a small one so it fits in your oven! (See below for cooking directions). Top it with a small dollop of butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar and you have a little taste of heaven!
- Did you know that approximately half of the pumpkin crop in Ontario is sold at the roadside? (1) What a great random fact to share with your colleagues at the water cooler next week.
Why cook with pumpkin?
There is lots of nutritional power packed into a pumpkin! Let's take a look at what a serving of pumpkin can offer!
1 cup of cooked pumpkin (boiled and drained): (2)
- A mere 50 calories
- 12 grams of carbohydrate (3 grams fibre, 5 grams sugar (natural), 4 grams starch)
- More potassium than an average medium banana (~564 mg vs. 422 mg)
- 8% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for iron for adult women
- 15% of the RDA for vitamin C for adult women; a water-soluble vitamin and antioxidant
- 100% of the RDA for vitamin A for adult women; your full requirement in just one cup of pumpkin! Awesome!
- 13% of the RDA for vitamin E for adult women; a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant
- 2484 ug of the "eye nutrients" lutein and zeaxanthin; these carotenoids are especially beneficial for those with age-related macular degeneration.
P.S. Want to know where to find reliable nutrition information about a particular food? (i.e. not from wikipedia or some random weight-loss website). Your two best options for a complete nutrient breakdown are the following:
Don't throw away the seeds!
Pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas) are known to be very good sources of the minerals manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and copper, and good sources of zinc and iron. (2) You can certainly purchase them pre-roasted and ready to eat at the store. Or, if you feel adventurous, you may want to try to roast them at home.
Here's how I typically roast them.
Simply separate the seeds from the inner cavity and wipe them off with a paper towel. Spread them out overnight to let them dry out (if you can wait)! Place them on a cookie sheet, in a single layer, and pour on top a few good glugs of extra virgin olive oil and season with whatever you fancy - sea salt, paprika, red pepper flakes ... the options are endless! Roast at 350 F for about 10 minutes or until just lightly brown.
Let's get on with the MUFFINS!
So enough about pumpkin nutrition. It's time for the recipe! First, I have to let you in on two little secrets, or should I say obsessions of mine, when baking:
- I use Greek yogurt (or cottage cheese) ALL THE TIME (because why not add protein)?
- I love to use my food processor (everything goes in it - one and done)!
This muffin recipe allows me to satisfy both of my baking obsessions. And best of all, it will help me use up all of the frozen pumpkin that I put away last year before I replace it with a new batch this year.
For those of you who are interested, freezing pumpkin is easy! Cut a pumpkin open, remove the guts, place upside down on a baking sheet or pan in some water. Place in the oven (at 350F) and cook until its done, meaning you can stab it with a fork and its soft. Scoop out the cooked flesh and freeze it in 1 cup portions, which is what most recipes call for. If you like it extra smooth, like I do, you can put it in a blender or food processor before you freeze it. (3)
So here's the recipe, ready?!
#1 Assemble the ingredients!
#2 Dump everything (minus the chipits or raisins) into the blender or food processor.
#3 Pour into prepared muffin tins.
#4 Bake and enjoy :)
Pumpkin Oat Greek Yogurt Muffins
It's easy peasy to make these gluten-free - simply use certified gluten-free oats and you're good to go!
- 1 cup plain greek yogurt
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups rolled oats (regular or gluten-free)
- 1/2 cup cane sugar or sweetener of your choice
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips or raisins
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Prepare muffin tin by lining with liners (you may want to lightly spray inside of liners to prevent batter from sticking) or coating the cavities with cooking spray.
- Add all ingredients (except the raisins or chocolate chips) to a food processor or blender and process on high until oats are broken down and batter is smooth (about 2 min).
- Stir in raisins or chocolate chips by hand.
- Pour batter into prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle chocolate chips, raisins, pumpkin seeds or oats on top of each muffin, if you want to get fancy :)
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until tops are set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Recipe adapted from runningwithspoons.com
- Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Accessed September 30, 2016. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/00-031.htm#classification.
- USDA Nutrient Database. Accessed September 30, 2016. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3142?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=50&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=pumpkin&ds=
- The best source of cooking knowledge, my mother.