The mighty pumpkin – some varieties are known to grow over 1,000 kilograms – is often relegated to Halloween décor and Thanksgiving pie. It has many other uses, however. Here are five to try this fall.
1. It’s what’s for breakfast
When we think of eating pumpkin-based dishes, the first thing that comes to mind is the last meal of the day: dessert. But nutrient-rich, low-calorie, high-fibre pumpkin is an excellent ingredient to use at breakfast time.
You can incorporate pumpkin puree into your smoothies, oatmeal or pancakes to boost your intake of potassium, magnesium and vitamins C and E. Add pumpkin seeds, which are high in protein, to your granola.
You can even add a dollop of pumpkin puree to plain yogurt – add cinnamon, maple syrup and your favourite nut butter for a filling fall-flavoured dish.
2. And for lunch
Is there any more perfect midday meal in fall than a savoury soup? Consider substituting squash with pumpkin in your favourite pureed or chunky lunchtime meals. Just remember to pick the right kind of pumpkin for the dish you’re cooking. The kind you carve up for jack-o’-lanterns aren’t the best for steaming or roasting.
3. Flavourful gluten-free treats
If you love seasonal pumpkin baked treats but have celiac disease or prefer to avoid gluten, you’ll appreciate the recipe collection of gluten-free pumpkin desserts on The Celiac Scene website. Whether you’re craving pumpkin bread, scones, cookies or a classic pumpkin pie, you’ll find a recipe suited to a gluten-free lifestyle here.
4. Smashing pumpkins
Maybe the only pumpkins you have on hand are leftover Halloween jack-o’-lanterns – those aren’t ideal for eating. They are, however, ideal for smashing!
Since 2012, Common Roots Urban Farm in Halifax, which grows produce for local food banks, has hosted a pumpkin-smashing event right after Halloween. Residents bring their leftover pumpkins and smash them into compost for the farm. (Bonus: This event includes a performance from a Smashing Pumpkins cover band.)
In Nova Scotia’s agricultural heartland, students at King’s County Academy in Kentville combine fun and science at their annual pumpkin drop. Each class builds a box designed to offer maximum protection to a pumpkin thrown out of a cherry-picker truck. Afterward, pumpkins are simply dropped and, to the delight of all, smashed onto the school’s outdoor basketball court.
5. Helping our animal friends
Even if a pumpkin isn’t edible for humans, it could be beneficial to other animals.
- With a little carving, you can turn almost any pumpkin into a backyard bird feeder.
- Depending on a horse’s nutritional needs, a bit of pumpkin (including the seeds but not the stem) may be a suitable treat. A small pumpkin (again, without the stem) makes a great plaything for the stall, too.
- Wildlife rescue facilities may be able to use pumpkins as treats for some of their patients, such as eagles and porcupines. Check with some of the local centres in Nova Scotia, such as the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Hilden and Hope for Wildlife in Seaforth.