It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

Ah, there’s nothing like the smell of warm pumpkin bread in the morning.  For anyone who knows me, it shouldn’t come to a shock that I love to get into the food aspect of every season, month, holiday or anything else to which I can associate a food.  And in October there can be no better food tie-in than pumpkin, and of course all of those yummy spices that taste so good with it.

So when it came time to come up with goodies for my daughter’s school bake sale, pumpkin bread was a must!  And, I have to admit, the kids and I devoured the first mini-loaf fresh from the oven–yum!  I don’t think I have to explain why pumpkin foods taste so scrumptious.  But this is one of those many cases where it is so incredibly easy to eat deliciously and nutritiously.

Certainly you can carve up a pumpkin and cook and puree it yourself, and if you have the desire and time, than go for it!  But, even if you don’t, canned pumpkin is an amazing thing (I don’t mean pumpkin pie filling, I’m talking about just simple, plain pumpkin puree like Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin–so be sure to grab the right can.)  When I think of canned pumpkin and how nutritious it is, the image that comes to mind is that of Popeye inhaling those cans of spinach, followed by his muscles busting out all over.   Do a spinach-pumpkin trade and that’s how powerful pumpkin can be. (Now, before all you spinach lovers get in a tizzy, yes it is still a powerfully nutritious food, I’m just talking about pumpkin today and it’s a darn good one too.) And to be able to get all that in just the few minutes it takes to open a can–WOW!

What makes pumpkin so great you might ask?  Well, I’ll tell you! But where to begin?  It’s absolutely LOADED with vitamin A and Beta Carotene.  On top of that, one half cup has 5 grams of fiber, only 40 calories and virtually no fat or sodium.  All that and it tastes great to boot!  How can you go wrong? 

We all know it makes fantastic breads and muffins, but think outside the can for a minute.  Pumpkin pancakes are a delish and nutrition packed way to start the day (see below for my quick and easy recipe).  You can also try stirring a spoonful or two into a bowl of hot oatmeal to make a super belly warmer.  Change up your morning toast or bagel with some pumpkin spice cream cheese–beat 8 ounces of softened, reduced fat cream cheese with 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, and a pinch of your favorite fall spices such as cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, or ginger.

FYI–pumpkin freezes great–it’ll last for about 3 months.  So, when the jumbo 29 oz can is on sale get it and if you don’t use the whole thing within a week just divide it into 1/2 cup portions in freezer bags and you’re good to go.  The 29 oz can has about 3 1/2 cups of pumpkin while the 15 oz can has about 1 3/4 cups.

And now for those nutrition power packed pumpkin pancakes.  Use your favorite pancake recipe–be it a pancake mix, baking mix, or from scratch.  For every 2 cups of flour, add 2/3 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.  Add dry with dry and wet with wet, otherwise follow your usual recipe’s directions.  You may find they taste so good, you might not even need syrup.

Um, that sounds so good, I’ll think I’ll go grab a bag of frozen pumpkin out of my freezer for tomorrow’s breakfast.  What are some of your favorite ways to eat pumpkin?

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