Hey, Pumpkin!

IMG_4796It finally feels like fall is in the air and that means the return of all things pumpkin.  

From gracing our doorstep in heaps to taking center stage at dessert time, this seasonal signature squash brings a bold spot of color to our decor as well as remarkable health benefits.  An excellent source of fiber, vitamin A and potassium, pumpkin can boost eyesight, aid in weightless and refuel the body post workout. It is naturally rich in phytosterols, which has been shown to reduce LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, as well as the anti-oxidant beta-carotene, which may play a part in cancer prevention.  Pumpkin is hydrating, at 90% water, can boost your mood and is beneficial in keeping skin smooth and wrinkle-free.

The average American will reportedly consume five pounds of pumpkin this year, but it may be that Americans love pumpkin-flavored foods and beverages even more. Pumpkin beer now accounts for two-thirds of all fall beer sales, according to Nielsen and Starbucks’ early release of their Pumpkin Spice Lattes felt like a national holiday. (As an said, we tend to agree with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s take on this spiced drink, that “the coffee that tastes like a candle.”)

But back to the task at hand: sharing our favorite pumpkin-inspired foods.  If you have the time, bake The GREAT Pumpkin Bread because it’s amazing and nothing tastes more like fall. If you are slim on time, we have to admit that Trader Joe’s offers a good alternative when baking from scratch isn’t always accessible.  Their boxed pumpkin mix, with its prep time of four minutes flat, is causing us to stockpile our pantry for the months ahead, like a squirrel gathering acorns.

Equally as delicious is another new favorite: Pumpkin Pancakes, also from Trader Joe’s. This light and delicious breakfast treat is irresistible when topped with melted butter and paired with crispy bacon and charmed ever the most seasoned pancake connoisseur.

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If you want to add a little pumpkin to your body regime, try a moisturizing pumpkin body mask (1/2 cup each of pumpkin puree and cold-pressed coconut oil with a teaspoon of ground cinnamon).  Massage into skin, wait 10 minutes and then rinse with warm water.

For the extreme pumpkin experience, head to the World Pumpkin Capital in Half Moon Bay, California for the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival to “pay homage to the great and almighty gourd.” Complete with a pumpkin parade, art & crafts, a $30,000 pumpkin weigh off and “Smashing Pumpkins: Battle of the Bands” competing on three stages, there is plenty to celebrate at this world-famous annual event.  So raise your Jack-o-tini and toast the arrival of Orange October.

 How are you enjoying this seasonal favorite?

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