Pumpkin; The true Fairy Godmother
“Her godmother scooped out all the inside of it, leaving nothing but the rind. Then she struck it with her wand, and the pumpkin was instantly turned into a fine gilded coach.” Charles Perrault
I love the change of the seasons! It is a new opportunity to fall in love with the seasons’ food all over again. As the light changes to gold and the nights get longer, my thoughts turn to fall foods, particularly pumpkin. There is something about pumpkins that just makes me smile. Maybe it’s their big, bright, orange faces and curly stems that are so emblematic of fall. Or maybe it’s all the memories that swell around the orange gourd of trick o’ treating, pie, and falling leaves.
Pumpkins are royalty of the nutrition world. They take the throne in their lively color which is the herald of their strong content of beta carotene. Beta carotene… pause for applause….is one of the most amazing nutrients we can consume for overall health. It is an antioxidant that destroys free radicals in our systems, supports eye health, reduces the aging process and is linked to prevention of cancer and heart disease. Wow, how good does it get! (It is important to note that beta carotene needs to be ingested naturally, through foods. Artificial beta carotene is under scrutiny for accelerating cancer.) The crowning glory of pumpkins is that there are only 83 calories and a mega 7 grams of fiber in a cup of cooked pumpkin! They are also a good source of Vitamins C, K, and E, and lots of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and iron. Pumpkins were aptly represented as the gilded vehicle in Cinderella.
So, one may ask, how do we get pumpkin on the table in any other form than a pie? I have been exploring that very thought for many years. I love adding cubed pumpkin or other winter squash to soups, salads, smoothies and even mashed potatoes.(More to come on that one.) Yet, I think my fondest autumn recipe is Pumpkin Pancakes. Pumpkin Pancakes have long been the declaration in our house that fall is officially here. I have experimented with many pancakes to bring you these glass slippers.
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ tsp of cloves
½ teaspoon of nutmeg, preferably fresh ground
½ teaspoon salt
1¾ cups milk
1 teaspoon of good vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ tablespoons vinegar, I use apple cider vinegar
Add dry ingredients together in a bowl and mix together with a whip. Then add wet ingredients together in another bowl and whip. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together till just mixed. Pour wet pancake mix on a medium hot griddle. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
~Note ~ One can substitute three teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice instead of the above spices. Mother Nature’s has a great bulk one! You can either make your own pumpkin puree or get it out of a can. In this one instance I prefer the canned organic pumpkin.
If you really want to blow everyone’s minds and a few calories make this syrup to go with the pancakes. This syrup is actually a much lower calorie version of its original and it turns this in to a breakfast fit for Cinderella and her prince. May you have your meal with gladness and health!
Bourbon Pecan Syrup
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/3 cup of water
1/3 cup of chopped toasted pecans
1½ tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of bourbon or liqueur of your choice, (I love to use Tuaca which is an Italian liqueur infused with vanilla and citrus.) optional
2 teaspoons of a good vanilla
Combine sugars and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Stir in pecans, butter, bourbon, and vanilla extract. Reduce heat, and cook 3 minutes or until mixture is thick and bubbly. Serve immediately with the hot pumpkin pancakes.