By: Lynne Hart
According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Americans purchase 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins per year. Most of these pumpkins will be carved, displayed, then tossed in the trash and be added to our landfills.
Pumpkin is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and minerals. These are all good things and it is sad to see so much of it go to waste.
Make an effort to do more with the pumpkins you purchase. If you decorate your pumpkin without carving it, you can then use the pumpkin later to make pumpkin bread, soups, roasted pumpkin seeds, muffins, and so much more. The internet is packed with recipes using pumpkin purée.
When choosing a pumpkin, look for the smaller sugar pumpkins that make the best puree for baking use. Once the holidays are over, give your pumpkins a chance to share their healthy goodness with you and your family. Pumpkin puree is easy to make and can be used immediately or frozen to use in future baking adventures.
Creating Pumpkin Purée
To create pumpkin purée, wash your pumpkins, cut them in half, and remove seeds which can be roasted later for a healthy snack. Scrape all the insides out using a spoon. Place pumpkin halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour. The pumpkins are ready when they can be easily pierced with a fork.
The pumpkin meat should easily peel away from the skin using a spoon. Place the pumpkin meat in a blender and puree until very smooth. Remember, the purée freezes well for future use.
I’ve included the following recipe for homemade pumpkin dog treats I found on foodwithfeeling.com because I love my dog, and I know many of you have fur babies you love, too. Pumpkin is good for a dog’s digestive system, so why not share this tasty seasonal treat with them, too?
Healthy Pumpkin Dog Treats
½ cup puréed pumpkin (canned or fresh)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil, softened
4 tablespoons water, plus more if needed
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the pumpkin, softened coconut oil, and water together in a large bowl. Then mix in the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix it a bit and then stir in the egg. Continue to stir until it is ALL combined. This might take a few minutes. Add a touch more water if needed to get the mixture into one solid, slightly sticky ball. Roll the dough onto a floured surface to about ¼” thick. Use a cookie cutter or just cut the dough into squares. Make the treats size appropriate for your dog.
Place prepared dough treats on a lined or greased baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes (depending on size) or until dough has thoroughly hardened. Let cool and enjoy giving these treats to your precious pup!
NOTE: If you do not cook until completely dry like traditional dog biscuits, then you will need to store them in the refrigerator. If you’re unsure, store them in the fridge.
By: Lynne Hart
Executive Coordinator – Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful