Fall! I really enjoy this time of year! Temperatures are cool, but not cold. Trees become exceptionally beautiful with all the different colored leaves painting quite a beautiful landscape to view as you drive down the road!
It also means a trip to the pumpkin patch, local grocery store, or city market to choose that perfect pumpkin! Pumpkins are a vegetable grown from seeds planted in late May to early July (depending on where they’re grown) to be ready for Halloween selection. The large Jack-O-Lantern version has become a symbol for Halloween. When you’re searching for pumpkins to purchase, select ones that are free of cracks and soft spots. Look for that deep orange color and a stem of at least one inch to help prevent pumpkin decay. Moisture increases the risk of a pumpkin to deteriorate, so do not refrigerate pumpkins or keep them in a damp place. Whole pumpkins can be stored for 3 to 6 months at 45 to 50 degree temperatures.
Pumpkins are a wonderful source of beta carotene – an antioxidant. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, vision, and bone development, amongst other functions. Pumpkins are also a good source of potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin C. Mashed pumpkin is low in calories, with only 49 calories per cup.
Pumpkin has a mild flavor that has found its way into many recipes, such as soups, pureed as a side dish, pumpkin bread, custards, muffins and cookies and even the famous coffees.
A fun recipe for kids, young and old, is Hot Pumpkin Cocoa!
4 cups milk
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons pumpkin puree
4 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
Combine all ingredients in a pot on the stove. Whisk gently till warm, and all ingredients are smoothly blended. Serve, and watch the smiles appear!