Thursday, November 14, 2013

What's the Deal with Pumpkins?

Like many million of Americans, I go crazy with pumpkin during this season. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream/shake/custard/pudding, pumpkin seeds... In my pantry, there are 5 cans of pumpkin puree waiting for my next what-can-I-add-pumpkin-to food creation.

People have become so in love with pumpkins that there are pumpkin-flavored everything in the store. Bloggers around talk about their pumpkin obsession and what new creations they have made with pumpkin. Huffington Post has a slide show on what pumpkin products out there. But if you eat a spoonful of pumpkin puree out of the can, it kind of tastes like nothing. Like baby food with a mild distinct taste. Actually no pumpkin flavored food taste like the real deal. Especially Starbucks' PSL. My pumpkin obsession is limited to the real stuff, not some pumpkin spiced chocolate, or even Pumpkin Spice Pringles.

Last year I got a sugar pumpkin from my CSA basket, which I used to make a pumpkin pie. The real deal. It heavenly, made me no longer want to look at a can of pumpkin puree. But let's face it, who has time to make pumpkin puree out of real pumpkin everyday. I would need at least one sugar pumpkin a week.

So what's the deal with pumpkin?

NPR has a article, "Why Americans Go Crazy For Pumpkin and Pumpkin Flavor Stuff", it says that Americans love pumpkins for the sake of farm life nostalgia. I highly doubt Starbucks' PSL lovers think of farm life before they snap a classic picture of themselves holding this signature fall drink.

To me, pumpkin is not only the quintessential ingredient of autumn, but also the start of a cerebration time. Although as a dietitian, I am biased to this super food packed with fiber and vitamins. This bright orange squash of various sizes kicks off the season of eating festivities, of which my  favorite: Thanksgiving.

Whether it's nostalgia or not, pumpkin brings the fond memory of comfort food and cozy sweater. Sound cheesey? Well it is, aren't we all suckers for pumpkins?

Pumpkin Pancake
(Recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction)

1.5 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 1/3 cups pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, whole milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vanilla.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Stir dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just combined. 
3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or nonstick frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst, about 1 to 2 minutes. Using a thin spatula, carefully flip each pancake and cook until browned on the underside, about 2 minutes more. Transfer cooked pancakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Continue with more oil and remaining batter. If desired, top with additional toasted pecans, butter and high quality maple syrup.

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