By Dr. Quinn Hand, ND
While it is now a few weeks past Halloween, and I definitely should have been more timely with this post, I figured it is still fall and we may have those carved pumpkins hanging around (or you can find little varieties in stores). So, let me tell you story of my Halloweens and how I use my left-over Jack-o-lanterns!
While I am about to hit my mid-thirties, I still find it immensely enjoyable to give out Halloween treats. My boyfriend and I live in a condo, so we don’t have many visitors. However, we happen to be lucky enough to live down the street from my family. So, every Halloween for the last 5 years, we have trundled down the street to my family home to be the candy brigade.
Part and parcel of this joyous activity is me carrying on the tradition of carving pumpkins. My dad and I were notorious for buying pumpkins late, sometimes even Halloween day, often running between stores to find a few, then racing home to carve them, light them up and set them out for the night’s festivities. Now, with my dad having passed away, my boyfriend and I happily carry on this tradition.
Now, we have always cleaned out our pumpkins setting aside the seeds for roasting. Sometimes, when I was little, my nanny would save the flesh and turn it into pumpkin muffins (another good idea). However, as we grew older, the pumpkins were often discarded.
This struck me as so sad. Pumpkins are nutritious food, people! And cheap to boot! They are a rich source of vitamins like vitamins A & C, folate, calcium and magnesium, as well as polyphenolic antioxidants such as lutein, xanthin, and carotenes, all good for your eyes! So, what can you do with this humble back-yard squash the morning after Halloween? Make soup, of course!!
Here’s what to do:
- Cut up your pumpkin in to decently sized chunks (you don’t need to be precise)
- Place them on cookie trays or in roasting dishes, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
- Then throw them in the oven, pre-heated to about 375F.
- Let them slowly bake until the flesh is fork tender.
- Remove from the oven, let them cool enough to handle, and scoop the flesh off the skin. It peels away so easily.
- Throw the flesh in your blender and add vegetable or chicken stock and blend until a silky, smooth consistency. I just eyeball it to about ½ stock, ½ flesh in the blender and drizzle in stock while blending, if needed.
- I like to season my soup with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, turmeric and chilli pepper. I don’t have any specific measures. I just add them to my taste. You can add these while blending, or decant your soup into a stock pot and season all at once.
- Once all your pumpkin is blended, decant into mason jars and store in the fridge up to 7 days.
- If you have extra, you can decant into glass lock containers, wide mouth mason jars (with room at the top to allow expansion while freezing and avoid broken jars) or your other favourite freezer-friendly storage solutions. I try to stick with glass where possible to minimize plastic byproducts seeping into my food.
So, I hope that gives you a simple way to turn your Halloween tradition into something nutritious and delicious, while saving a few more pumpkins from a green-bin demise.
Take the cue to good health,