Health & Wellness

Pumpkin tids and bits

Janet Moje

Jack of the Lantern

As far back as 1663, there was an Irish folktale about a man known as Stingy Jack. He was a clever fellow, and to profit himself, he managed to trick the devil several times. But eventually, old Stingy Jack dies. God didn’t accept this unsavory fellow into heaven, and the devil wouldn’t let him in hell either. However, Stingy Jack was given a lump of burning coal which he place into a carved out turnip, so he could at least have a dim light to see by while he forever wandered the earth in his never ending curse. Thus Stingy Jack became known as Jack of the Lantern, and later shortened to our modern day Jack’o Lantern.

Irish immigrants brought this tale over to the Americas. Originally, Jack’o Lanterns were carved from large turnips, potatoes or beets, but they soon found that native pumpkins were most suitable. They carved scary faces into them to ward away Stingy Jack or any other unwelcomed wandering spirits.

 

‘In the Flesh’

‘Spirits’ aren’t the only thing jack’o lanterns can ‘scare’ away. The pumpkin flesh itself is high in vitamin A, good for the eyes, skin and immune system. Pumpkins are a good source of vitamins C and E, calcium, potassium, fibre and several B vitamins. You can’t go wrong consuming them, and you have done most of the work by carving it so why throw the best part out?

After you cut off the “lid” and remove the pumpkin guts, scrape the flesh of the pumpkin from the inside walls, leaving only a thin layer. Put the guts in a bowl to claim the seeds from later, and the fleshy pulp in a pot with some water and boil until soft. Mash it up well or whip it in a blender. You can use this puree to make pumpkin pie, lattes, smoothies or soup. Or just put into a sealable jar and can to use later.

 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Very nutritious and high in antioxidants, pumpkin seeds are a rich source of magnesium, iron, zinc and the amino acid tryptophan, which helps you sleep. Take your bowl of pumpkin guts and wash them under running water, pulling off as many of the strings as you can. Don’t worry about the little clingy ones. Spread the seeds on a baking sheet and let dry overnight. They do not roast well when they are wet. The next day, rub the dry seeds between your hands to loosen the small bits of pumpkin from the seeds. Toss the seeds into a bowl and add olive oil and garlic salt. For every cup of seeds use two tsp olive oil and ½ tsp garlic salt. Spread on a cookie sheet evenly and roast for 30-40 minutes in a 300o F oven. For a spicier variation, add black pepper or cayenne pepper before roasting.

Pumpkin Pie in a Glass

This pumpkin smoothie is a quick and easy energy pick-me-up. Use ½ cup pumpkin puree, ½ very ripe banana, ¾ cup vanilla yogurt, 1 Tablespoon honey, ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice, ¼ tsp vanilla, 1 cup crushed ice.  Place all the ingredients in a blender and whip until smooth.

 

Make your own
Pumpkin Pie Spice!

Three Tbsp. cinnamon, 2 tsp. ginger, 2 tsp. nutmeg, 1½ tsp. allspice, 1½ tsp cloves.