24 October 2009

green 1 thing: a happier halloween

Every year thousands of families gather around the kitchen table to carve up pumpkins for Halloween, etching toothy grins and triangular eyes into the great orange gourds. And every year, once the carving is done, tons of useful pumpkin innards are chucked in the trash, considered useless once the jack-o-lantern has been carved. In a world where we already throw away nearly half of all the food we consume (half!), the last thing we should do is dispose of more perfectly good and incredibly beneficial produce - especially in a year where poor weather conditions and climate change have left us with a significantly damaged pumpkin crop.

By no means am I telling you not to indulge in your yearly pumpkin tradition - go on! But this year, why not carve with care? Once you've got all this pumpkin goo on your hands, ask yourself: what are you going to do with it? Well, I'm here with a few options for you!

Start with the seeds, those beautiful white discs suspended in the stringy pulp. Cleaned and rinsed, these babies can be slow-roasted at a low-to-medium heat with a variety of spice combinations to produce a delicious, crunchy snack high in vitamins A, B2, C and E. Try making them with curry powder, or toss them with some chili and cumin for a spicy bite. Feeling exceptionally culinary? Try this recipe for black tea and butter pumpkin seeds over at 101 Cookbooks.

Bursting with beta-carotene (a natural immune booster), pumpkin flesh make for a great soup! Pumpkin soup is accomplished with a bare minimum of ingredients, usually just stock, milk, spices and (of course) pumpkin, but varieties of this fall favorite abound, ranging from pear-and-pumpkin combinations to the black-bean infused Caribbean pumpkin soup. With choices so far ranging you're sure to find a recipe that will warm both your heart and belly.

And finally, for those of you sitting back sneering, "That's it? Seeds and soup? That's all these giant beasts are good for?" To you I say, hardly! Try some pumpkin risotto! Or Alton Brown's pumpkin bread! Not interested in eating your pumpkin? Blend it with some tea and honey to create a moisturizing (and great smelling!) face mask! Or an indulgent pumpkin body butter. If the options are too overwhelming for you, you'll be happy to know that pumpkin freezes very easily and will last up to a year properly stored in your freezer.

Happy carving!

Image via tvland.com

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