Fall is in full swing, and you know what that means: pumpkin everything! This popular flavor is making its way into everything from coffee to candles earlier and earlier each fall season. What is it about this fruit that we love so much? How did it carve its own slice into our Thanksgiving traditions?
Pumpkins fall into a category of fruits called “winter squash,” which can be misleading at first. Many varieties of squash and gourds are planted each spring and can also be grown year-round. But winter squash, including pumpkins, are traditionally harvested right before the first fall frost. They are then stored in cool, dry conditions to be enjoyed throughout late fall and winter– which explains the name.
Winter squash and pumpkins pack tons of flavor, nutrition and are extremely versatile in cooking. Pumpkin can be roasted, baked, boiled or microwaved, and is often enjoyed in both sweet and savory recipes. When pumpkins are cooked they take on a creamy, smooth texture and recognizable flavor– making them the perfect companion for dairy delicious holiday recipes!
Through the winter months, pumpkins and other squash provide a good source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber to our diets. When paired with milk, you benefit from additional nutrients including protein, potassium, vitamin D and calcium.
This year you can celebrate Pumpkin Pie Day knowing the delicious treat also provides good nutrition. But if you are looking for something different, think outside the gourd with this Pumpkin Pie Smoothie recipe. It uses kefir, a fermented milk product like yogurt, which means you can enjoy pumpkin pie without all the fuss– even if you’re lactose intolerant. Kefir products are 99% lactose-free because the lactose is broken down during the fermentation process.
If you are looking for more pumpkin dishes this holiday season, wow your guests with Autumn Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Bread Pudding or try another fruit from the winter squash category with this Butternut Squash Lasagna. And as you gather around the table to count your many blessings this Thanksgiving, remember to be thankful for the farmers who made the bountiful harvest possible. We celebrate their hard work and dedication through each meal we enjoy with family and friends.
Tracey True, RDN, LN