You Don't Hate Pumpkin. Here's Why.

It’s that time of year – pumpkin spice everything. I love it, but I know many who claim to “hate” pumpkin flavored things. I have bad news for them. No you don’t. How do I know? Because as a cook, I know that pumpkin has little to no flavor. Go ahead, I dare you, take a spoon and eat the pumpkin straight out of the can (it’s already cooked). There’s not a lot there.

 Fresh or canned, Fall's favorite squash doesn't have an overwhelming flavor.

Fresh or canned, Fall's favorite squash doesn't have an overwhelming flavor.

 

What Is It Then?

What you probably don’t care for is cinnamon, nutmeg and/or clove. These are the spices most often associated with “pumpkin spice” flavor and they’re what you’re most likely tasting…and sceeving. But that doesn’t mean that all dishes and recipes involving pumpkin also contain those flavors. Fellow Health Coach Caryn O’Sullivan of Appetites For Life, showed us this pumpkin recipe last fall. (I had never had okra before this day). The soup is delicious and flavorful and tastes nothing like a PSL.

 Pumpkin Chicken Soup

Pumpkin Chicken Soup

 

Why Pumpkin?

So why bother using an ingredient with little to no flavor? The seasonal squash adds moisture, texture and nutrients to dishes. In my pumpkin waffle recipe the puree is the majority of the wet ingredients. It helps keep the interior if the waffles moist while the fiber gives the waffles a great fluffy texture. Pumpkin can also be used as a substitute for butter and oil in baking, creating a vegan option. In whatever capacity you use it – pumpkin is packed with fiber to aid digestion. Along with Vitamins A & C for boosting the immune system, and is a good source of potassium.  

PumpkinWaffle.JPG

 

Pumpkin Spice of Life

As for those spices that you may detest – they’re good for you too! Cinnamon reduces inflammation in the body, is high in antioxidants and has even been found to be antibacterial. Nutmeg (and mace which comes from the same plant), has been used medicinally for stomach discomfort along with nausea and diarrhea. It has also been found to be antibacterial and antifungal. Clove will also aid with tummy troubles and has been found to be an expectorant (like Robitussin, but without the alcohol). If you still can’t stand the combination of these spices, you may want to try adding them into your cooking one at a time. Like pumpkin, they can all be used in savory dishes as well as sweet, so experiment!

 Whole cinnamon & nutmeg. The main flavors in "pumpkin spice" and delicious warming autumn spices.

Whole cinnamon & nutmeg. The main flavors in "pumpkin spice" and delicious warming autumn spices.

Whether you can’t wait to break out your Uggs and scarves, or you’re dreading “pumpkin spice season,” you may want to reconsider your hate of the flavor. Using the seasonal items in your kitchen can help foster culinary creativity and be beneficial to your health! Just be wary of “flavored” items. Sugary syrups, seasonings and artificial flavorings are NOT what you want to be using. Stick with the real deal; yes, canned pumpkin is just fine, as long as it only contains squash. Spices are best whole, but ground is good. The spices and the canned pumpkin are also shelf stable so even if you can’t bring yourself to use them right away, they’ll wait for you. And of course I have a bunch of recipes to help you get started! 

Pumpkin Recipes:
Nonni's Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Chicken Soup w/ Okra
Pumpkin Waffles
Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells