National Pumpkin Day!

National Pumpkin Day falls on October 26th, and you may be thinking, “Why a holiday for pumpkins?” Well, pumpkins are so much more than a Halloween decoration. They are one of the best sources of beta-carotene which is an antioxidant, and they are loaded with fiber, potassium and vitamin C.

Pumpkins are native to the Western Hemisphere, but are now grown on every continent except Antarctica. Pumpkins are used for food and decoration, especially during Halloween and Thanksgiving. The pumpkins we eat and the ones we carve generally come from two different types of winter squash. (A gourd is an inedible squash.) Gourds get funny faces and squash ends up on the dinner table!

In America, the first pumpkins were grown by the Native Americans along the river banks. Pumpkins were very important to their diet.as they provided enough nutrients to help them survive long winters. When the Pilgrims arrived, Native Americans introduced them to pumpkins, and historians believe pumpkins were served on Thanksgiving in 1623.

So, what does one do to celebrate National Pumpkin Day? Since it falls on October 26, it’s the perfect time to carve a jack-o-lantern or decorate your home for the fall holidays. You could also read up on the history of the pumpkin or wear pumpkin-themed clothing. How about indulging in a pumpkin spice latte?

And of course, you could go to your kitchen and make something with pumpkin in it like pumpkin bread, cookies, pie, soup or some other sort of dish. I found a large variety of pumpkin recipes on the Taste of Home site called Our Absolute Best Pumpkin Recipes. I really never have seen so many ways to cook with pumpkin! Here are just a few to whet your appetite!

  • Sausage and Rice Stuffed Pumpkins – This is so cool! You use small pie pumpkins, sweet Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, peppers and rice. You basically cut the top off of the pumpkins and scoop out the pulp. Cook the sausage, onions and the other filling ingredients and stuff the pumpkins with it. You bake them until the pumpkin is tender. Sounds yummy and a perfect dinner party food!
  • Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili – This is a slow cooker chili that uses pumpkin, turkey, black beans, solid-pack pumpkin plus a variety of spices. Sounds like the perfect way to use up some of those turkey left-overs!
  • Pumpkin Potato Mash – This is a twist on the traditional mashed potatoes. Fix your mashed potatoes the way you always do, then mash some boiled pumpkin and swirl it through the mashed potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and you’re done!
  • Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Apple Topping – Mix up a topping of sliced apples, maple syrup, brown sugar and cinnamon. The batter has the usual flour, sugar and eggs, but also canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice as well as toasted chopped walnuts. I think you could almost serve this for dessert!
  • Pumpkin Lentil Soup – Lentils, black beans, pinto beans and pumpkin are the core ingredients of this soup. It would be perfect for a crisp fall day!

Please check out all the recipes on this amazing site! Click here.

Happy National Pumpkin Day!

– Becky Lynn is a writer for EllisDownHome.com. She and her husband Bob enjoy spending time with their 8 grandchildren and traveling. Becky loves cranking up the music and heading to the kitchen to try out new recipes or cook for an upcoming party. She is passionate about continuing to be a life-long learner!

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