So it’s October …muhwwwwwaaaaaahhhhhahahahahah!!!!! And that means everything fall and wonderful! Halloweenie and Scary! The gorgeous changing of the leaves, kinda like changing of the guard but with flat colorful leaves instead of wooly stiff Englishman………, getting cooler and crisper out and wearing those cute fall clothes, and fabulous hauntingly scary costumes, sinfully delicious chocolates and assorted candies, and pumpkin pie everything. Pumpkin pie ice cream, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin specialty candy, and pumpkin pie…pie! The real thing. Made from real pumpkins. I know pumpkin in a can is real pumpkin, but pies made fresh from actual pumpkins you carve are soooooo scrumptious. (And you can make pumpkin seeds!) Man we loved making those salty crunchy home cooked seeds. Of course as soon as you ate them, they were always over salted and would pucker our faces and we’d spit all of it out except the teeny seed inside. HA! Yes, a lot of work for a teeny treat. But doing it was the fun. And baking the pie…more work… but if you can bribe someone else in the family to do it…. Yum and easy LOL!!. The best part of the holiday for a family, carving the pumpkin, scooping out the seeds, making and eating those, and then, trowelling out a pumpkin for fresh pumpkin pie. That should be a family tradition. Great bonding moments for a family. Add the costumes, the trick or treating, the parties, the going through the bag of candy to see if it’s got good stuff or crap to give to the other kids, just plain good times. I love October… way better than November. Seriously, I am a vegetarian and haven’t eaten a turkey in 45 years so who really cares?? I do love having a family dinner but it could be pasta and it could be January for all I care, just love the family get together. But October…..Whooo Whooooo. Now I am a big believer in pumpkin pie and think it should be accessible all year long! It’s not only delicious, it’s good for you. It can be decadent and it can be diet food. Depends on how you play it. Think about the poor lowly pumpkin. You never see it, ya never hear about it, ya never think about it, ya never grow it in your garden. It’s like the invisible vegetable until fall comes around. No one is really shipping it in from another country so you can have fresh pumpkin in the summer or winter, oh no…and you can never find a can of it on the shelves after November. You just wait till Halloween and Thanksgiving roll around and then you make as much pumpkin stuff as you can because once it’s gone, it’s gone. You can’t even find that flavor anymore. Not in the frozen yogurt shops, not in the coffee pods for your kuerig, not even a friggin candy bar! What is the deal? You can get a sweet potato any old time ya like, and you can get a squash or a zucchini to make for dinner all year round, you can get sweet potato fries everywhere, all the time which by the way, Thank God and YUM times a zillion… MY FAVE!! But where the hell are the pumpkins? Who is kidnapping and hiding the orange round relatives, the pumpkins? Nutritionally speaking, pound for pound this is one healthy food! Here are a few healthy facts!
- It is one of the very low calorie vegetables. 100 g fruit provides just 26 calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, it is rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins. The vegetable is one of the food items recommended by dieticians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
- Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E.
- With 7384 mg per 100 g, it is one of the vegetables in the Cucurbitaceae family featuring highest levels of vitamin-A, providing about 246% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for good visual sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help a body protects against lung and oral cavity cancers.
- It is also an excellent source of many natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds such as α, ß carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin. Carotenes convert into vitamin A inside the body.
- Zea-xanthin is a natural anti-oxidant which has UV (ultra-violet) rays filtering actions in the macula lutea in retina of the eyes. Thus, it helps protect from “age-related macular disease” (ARMD) in the elderly.
- The fruit is a good source of B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid.
- It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
- Pumpkin seeds indeed are an excellent source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health. In addition, the seeds are concentrated sources of protein, minerals and health-benefiting vitamins. For instance, 100 g of pumpkin seeds provide 559 calories, 30 g of protein, 110% RDA of iron, 4987 mg of niacin (31% RDA), selenium (17% of RDA), zinc (71%) etc., but no cholesterol. Further, the seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid tryptophan.
Phew! Thank you Dr. but really, could I just bathe in the stuff? And the real pie? Made with sugar? And homemade sugary whip cream? I don’t need to eat it, just rub it my thighs, that’s where it’s going anyway!! But as I said, there are healthier versions. Almost as delish but let’s be honest… Now it’s tasty for sure, but let’s put the credit where credit is due. The things that bring out the best in pumpkin are sugar, cinnamon, and the minor players nutmeg, cloves, ginger, mace, etc….. So does that make it now unhealthy?? Heck NO!! A little sugar won’t kill ya, it won’t help ya but it won’t hurt ya. And of course there are tons of healthy replacements now. And the spices are just as healthy as the pumpkin. It may surprise you but one teaspoon of ginger has similar antioxidant levels as one cup of spinach. Scientists are looking at what role compounds in ginger play for digestive issues (nausea and others) along with its role in reducing pain. Cinnamon can speed up your metabolism; as can other things like cayenne, crushed red pepper, paprika. And cinnamon is also rich in natural compounds called polyphenols. Research suggests that these compounds may act like insulin in our body to help regulate blood sugar levels.
Now everyone has their favorite recipe and that is all a matter of taste… I have my decadent one, and I have my low calorie eat all you want pumpkin desert that will be going in my cook book soon!! Yep, working on a cookbook and it will be delish! Well, not the actual book although maybe a compound so you can lick the pages. Hmmmmmmmm.
Anyway, back to where are the pumpkins???? So the point is, ya never see a pumpkin till October, then you see road side stands, pumpkin patches, farmers markets, and grocery stores so overflowing with pumpkins they could take over the world!
Carve them little arms and give them zappers and we would be toast! So of course we buy tons of them, the squirrels get happy and chow on them on our porches, the devil children steal them and throw them in the street, and mostly and sadly we just throw them out a few days after Halloween. But what about those gazillion pumpkins still sitting in the patch, or on the nursery plant stands or in the stores? What happens to them? Do they make more ice cream that we could eat throughout the winter? NOOO they do not, who would be so kind??? And it’s not like it would go bad, IT’S FROZEN PEOPLE!! I’ll tell ya where it goes… The weekend after Halloween there are competitions all across America. Pumpkin throwing competitions. The largest I think is the Punkin Chunkin annual championship in Bridgeville, Del. It lasts 3 days and asttracts more than 20,000 vicious pumpkin killers! That’s right, you heard me. They launch leftover pumpkins from giant catapults, air cannons, and trebuchets that spew the gourds thousands of feet through the air. (Can you hear Mr. Bill??? Ohhhh Nooooooo) Back in 1986 some physics students from Salisbury University were having a pumpkin throwing contest. Four Delaware men heard about it and were inspired to start their own contest that soon went national. The winner in ‘86 actually used a catapult and hurtled a pumpkin 126 feet. A sport was born, a horrible waste of my delicious pumpkin pie sport was born LOL… Actually, in 2008 a team (yes, they started ganging up on the poor defenseless pumpkins) these guys didn’t even have scary faces carved into them to use!! Anyway, at the 2008 World Championship, yes people it’s become big time, a team actually set the world record flinging a pumpkin 4,483 feet. Holy Smasharoonie. I wonder who cleans up the mess. One can only hope all the animals around town, get their own version of pumpkin pie road kill for many weeks. There was even a Slingin Pumpkin festival here in Warren County, NJ. last week. Killing the pumpkins early… But Beer, Chili, Hayrides, tours and Pumkin throwing galore were the culmination of a weekend of fun.
So next time you want something pumpkin, something fun to do, a fall festival, look for a pumpkin chunkin event and…..and steal as many pumpkins as you can save!!! They’ll thank you and your tastebuds will thank me!!! LOL!! Happy Fall Everybody!! And have a Scary Merry Halloween!! Enjoy!!!!