Pumpkins, the most beloved squash.

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Growing up….. I pretty much thought pumpkins sole purpose was for carving on Halloween. That was the only time I ever saw them…. if we were lucky my mom would bake the pumpkin seeds. I laugh now…. my mom doesn’t read this so i can make fun of her here, lol. But she didn’t do anything to those pumpkin seeds except wash them off and throw them on a pan and put it in the oven, yet every stinkin year she’d make it seem like the most time consuming task and we were REALLY asking for a lot to get pumpkin seeds out of the carving process. The same goes with my dad and putting Christmas lights on the tree. You’d think you were requesting him to solve the gordian knot.

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Well, being now a grown up myself… several things are quite different. I try to grow pumpkins every year. Some years they happen, some years they don’t…. this year I was lucky enough to get some! And they aren’t for Halloween…. they’re for me! You always hear of people eating acorn squash as a side dish, sometimes a soup, sometimes it makes it as a yummy entree star….. but you never, NEVER hear of someone eating pumpkin as a side. And yet you totally could and you’d never know the difference. (Pumpkin was my third child’s first food!) I love it… the rich orange-y goodness is loaded with vitamins and cancer fighting goodies, so it loves me too. I have a theory that most of the veggies that are especially good at developing the immune system are ready to be eaten August-October…. just in time for everyone to be hit with the flu. I guess we’ll find out. It’s hit our house this week… Elliott, husband and I had it last week, my daughter came down with it last night and spiked a 103* temp today. But I would bet my left leg nobody will end up with bronchitis, ear infections, sinus infections, pnumonia, or other because of what we’ve been eating on for the past few months. It’s okay to be sick once in a while, it forces you to slow down and rest a little… contemplate how nice it is to get up and work! 😉

Well, my pumpkins have all been picked. Generally I wait for the stems to start drying up and the “stalk” to die, then just twist off the dry portion of the stem and they just pop off.

Preheat your oven to 350*. Wash off the exterior of the pumpkin… Cut them down the middle, scoop out the seedy guts and put them in a bowl.  Place the pumpkin half cut side down on a jelly roll pan. Bake for 50 mins.

MEANWHILE: Dig through those guts and collect your seeds. Wash them off and toss them into a bowl. Douse them with some olive oil, salt, ground pepper, and paprika (generously with the salt and paprika). Mix it all up and spread out on a pan so it’s ready to go in the oven when the pumpkin comes out. 15mins at 350*, mix, another 15mins, done.

Pull the pumpkin out of the oven and allow to cool for 30mins while the seeds are baking.
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You will probably notice that the pumpkins quickly collapse when you pull them out of the oven, and there will be water on the pan. This is good…. but don’t get overly ambitious and try to skip the cooling off step. You will probably burn yourself if you do.

Once the pumpkins have cooled, the seeds are done, and your blender is ready to go….. flip them over and scoop them out! Plop the pumpkin meat into a blender…. and blend on high until nice and smooth. (Don’t add water…. this is 100% pumpkin!)

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Voila! Your very own, organically grown, pumpkin puree. This wonderful stuff can become pumpkin chili, a pumpkin side dish, pumpkin bread or muffins, pumpkin coconut spice ice cream, OR…….
a Soy milk pumpkin spice latte!!!

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