A patch of pumpkin recipes

During the cooler months from September to March, everyone’s favorite pulpy, orange squash crops up across America. Whether carved for Halloween or baked into pies, pumpkins find their way into many decorative and culinary creations throughout the fall.

The Oracle has harvested several delicious ideas on how to bring pumpkin to the table.

Pumpkin Pie

Nothing tops off a Thanksgiving dinner better than a slice of pumpkin pie. Score some major bragging rights this year by making your own pumpkin pie from scratch.

First, scoop out the goopy innards and seeds of a medium-size sugar pumpkin. Boil the remaining outside of the pumpkin for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pumpkin flesh can be easily scraped off the rind. Mash the pumpkin and mix it in a bowl with one cup of brown sugar, one teaspoon of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of ginger and salt, four large eggs and one and a half cans of evaporated milk.

Mix well and pour into a pie crust, baking for 15 minutes at 425 degrees and 45 to 60 minutes at 350 degrees. When you can stick a knife in the pie and it comes out clean, it’s ready to be devoured by your impressed Thanksgiving guests.

– Melanie Wiesen

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are the most nutritional and tasty parts of the pumpkin. Rather than just tossing them aside, try this nifty recipe to make the most of your freshly carved pumpkin.

After gutting the pumpkin, completely rinse the seeds. You can either wait overnight to let the seeds dry, or you can use a hair dryer to dry them a lot faster. The next step, you can leave to your own imagination. Pumpkin seeds taste delicious with a variety of flavor combinations.

A couple mixtures to try include plain olive oil and sea salt, canola oil and cinnamon, maple syrup and cinnamon, leftover pumpkin juice and cumin, canola oil and Old Bay seasoning and soy sauce. You can mix and match these flavors, or make a few different batches to taste-test your favorites. Then spread the seeds out on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.

– Shannon Gordon

Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin cookies are easy to make. Start with some standard cookie ingredients: two and a half cups of flour, a cup and a half of sugar, half a cup of butter, one egg, a teaspoon of baking soda, baking powder and vanilla extract and half a teaspoon of salt.

Next, all you need is a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and nutmeg and a cup of pureed pumpkin. Mix the ingredients together and bake for 15 to 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

Add a drizzle of glaze, composed of two cups of powdered sugar, three tablespoons of milk, one tablespoon of melted butter and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, to complete your pumpkin cookies. Grab a glass of eggnog and welcome the holiday season the right way.

– Cheyenne Prosper

Pumpkin Smoothie

If you’re craving something fresh and still want the taste of fall, there is nothing better than a pumpkin smoothie. Take half a cup to a cup – depending on how pumpkin-y you want it – of either canned pumpkin or fresh pumpkin.

If you use pumpkin flesh, bake at 350 degrees for around an hour or until the flesh is very tender to the touch. Then let cool and scoop out the flesh.

Add either your freshly baked pumpkin flesh or canned pumpkin to a blender with a half-cup of ice. Add either a half-cup of vanilla soy milk or a half-cup of vanilla yogurt and nutmeg, vanilla essence and cinnamon to taste, generally around a teaspoon of each will suffice.

A tablespoon of honey will taste great, too. Blend it all together, pour and enjoy.

– Sarah Seabrook

Pumpkin Pancakes

There’s no better way to start Thanksgiving off than with a stack of warm pumpkin pancakes.

To make a dozen, mix one and a half cups of milk, one cup of pumpkin puree, an egg, two tablespoons of oil and two tablespoons of vinegar. In a separate bowl, mix two cups of flour, three tablespoons of brown sugar and one teaspoon of baking soda.

For flavor, sprinkle in a teaspoon of cinnamon, a half-teaspoon of ginger and a dash of salt. Combine the two bowls, distribute the batter onto a greased hot griddle and brown both sides. Top with your favorites and enjoy.

– Sheilla Sanon

Five health benefits of pumpkins:

1. Pumpkins are extremely high in fiber. Just one cup of pumpkin has seven grams of fiber. Fiber helps your digestive health stay in check, keeps you feeling fuller longer, helps lower cholesterol and helps your body fight heart disease.

2. Pumpkins are a huge source of beta-carotene, which not only slows some effects of aging and lowers the risk of both cancer and heart disease, but also helps your body create vitamin A. Vitamin A helps maintain healthy skin and good vision.

3. The main mineral found in pumpkin is potassium, which is essential for proper heart, muscle and kidney function. There are more than 500 milligrams of potassium in just one cup of cooked pumpkin.

4. Pumpkin seeds are also full of nutrients. One ounce provides about seven grams of protein, and a quarter of a cup provides 30 percent of your recommended daily amount of iron and 46 percent of your daily magnesium. They are also believed to help combat depression and fight off kidney stones.

5. Pumpkins are very low in calories, containing only 49 calories in one cup. Fresh pumpkin is the best choice, but if you prefer canned, make sure you find one that is salt-free and is not “pumpkin pie filling.”