• By Elizabeth Coots, Extension Agent

Family and Consumer Sciences

Pumpkins in the fall

Fall is the perfect time to make a trip to your local orchard or farmers market to buy pumpkins. Pumpkins are fun for the family to carve, but also keep in mind they are great for cooking and baking this season. Not only are pumpkins sweet and tasty, they are also loaded with antioxidants and vitamins that can help reduce the risk for developing different types of cancer, aging and even heart disease. The “sweet pumpkins” are the best kind of pumpkins for cooking or baking and are usually smaller than the “jack o’ lantern” pumpkins you often see.

Here are some general tips for picking the best pumpkin:

• Select a pumpkin with one to two inches of stem left. This ensures that the pumpkin is still fresh and will last longer.

• Try and avoid pumpkins with soft spots or blemishes.

• Heavy pumpkins are the best. You can usually get one cup of pumpkin puree out of each pound of the pumpkin.

After you select the perfect pumpkin, you can now prepare it for cooking. Pumpkin puree can be used for many different kinds of recipes such as soups, pies, breads, cakes, and even puddings. Before you get started, make sure to lay out some old newspaper because it can get messy.

• Cut the stem off with a knife.

• Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and the slime inside the pumpkin. Keep the seeds and roast them for an added treat.

• If you are planning to make a puree, cut up the pumpkin into large chunks. You can boil, bake in the oven, or even microwave to cook them until tender. When the pumpkin is cool, remove the peel.

The peeled pieces can be put in a food processor, food mill, or a potato masher to make into a puree. If you do not plan to use the pumpkin puree right away, it can be frozen for later use. Make sure it is fully cooled before you freeze the puree.

Fall Spiced Pumpkin Bread

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1-1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup melted margarine

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup honey

2 cups pumpkin puree

1/3 cup olive oil

2 eggs

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin spice and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together margarine, sugar, honey, pumpkin puree and olive oil. Blend in eggs. Add flour mixture. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spray a 8-by-4 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour batter into pan; sprinkle walnuts on top of batter. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cover with foil. Return to oven and bake an additional 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan.

Yield: 16 Slices

Nutritional Analysis:

220 calories, 13 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 14 g sugars, 4 g protein

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