We are big fans of Halloween in this house. In fact, this time of year is one of our favourites – log fire burning, crisp autumn walks and cosy nights looking forward to Christmas. Halloween sort of signals the beginning of that delicious period of anticipation for us.
I’ve carved a pumpkin every year since Frog was tiny. In fact, even before she was born I used to buy a pumpkin and carve it, before lighting a candle inside and putting it in the window. The picture above was taken when Frog was around 15 or 16 months old (before anyone chastises me for leaving a baby near a lit candle – it was moved out of her reach as soon as this photo was taken).
Anyway, one thing I’ve learned over the years is that pumpkins have a lot of flesh. And, if you’re not careful, once you’ve carved your pumpkin you can end up throwing a heck of a lot of it away. In keeping with the Organix #NoJunk Challenge I thought I’d share some of our favourite recipes for the bits of the pumpkin that could end up in the bin. These are tasty, delicious and – most importantly – healthy. Plus, our four year old loves them as much as we do.
1. Pumpkin soup
This is the time of year that homemade soup was invented for. The smell of it wafting through the house just ramps up the cosy factor. Pumpkin soup served with warm crusty bread makes a great weekend family lunch. Frog had her first taste of this as a baby and has loved it ever since.
I use this BBC Good Food recipe as a basis but put in less double cream and I use a mixture of vegetable stock and homemade chicken stock as I think it adds to the flavour. I also add a couple of cloves of crushed or garlic or a teaspoon of lazy garlic. I don’t bother with the croutons but serve it with fresh wholemeal crusty bread instead – to make it extra special heat the bread for a couple of minutes in the oven first.
2. Pumpkin curry
Pumpkin and coconut make a great partnership and this Sri Lankan curry is proof of that. Frog isn’t a huge fan of super spicy food so I tone this recipe down by only using one green chilli instead of three. The coconut adds a sweet element to the curry which is delicious. We eat it with boiled rice. Delicious.
3. Roasted pumpkin chips
Simple but tasty – if you’re short on time and want a healthy alternative to chips then roasted pumpkin chips make a great alternative. The trick with this is to cut your pumpkin into fairly thin strips. I sprinkle mine with a bit of cajun pepper for an added kick but Frog loves hers sprinkled with dessicated coconut for a fruity and sweet flavour. On its own pumpkin doesn’t taste of much, but roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with cajun pepper or coconut (or you could use paprika) and cooked for half an hour or so and it’s very tasty. If you like the sound of the coconut version then Capture By Lucy has a great recipe for these.
4. Roasted pumpkin seeds
Stuck in amongst the pulpy messy innards of the pumpkin, before you get to the flesh, are the pumpkin seeds. These are a good source of energy and make a brilliant snack companion if you’re trying to stay away from crisps and processed snacks high in salt. Or you could sprinkle them over salads to add some crunch instead of croutons. You’ll need to wash them thoroughly to get all the pulp off – this is actually quite a fun job for little ones. Frog loves the squidgy texture and has done ever since she was a toddler.
Once washed, scatter the seeds on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with pepper and paprika (you can add chilli powder too if your kids don’t mind a bit of spice) and bake in the oven on Gas Mark 6 for around 20 minutes. I’ve got a full recipe on my other blog for these which you may find useful.
5. Pumpkin loaf
I planned to make a pumpkin loaf but time ran away with me, so I’m determined to have a go this year instead. It’ll make a great snack when I’m on the go and I’m sure Frog will love it too. It uses brown sugar instead of caster sugar and gets lots of its flavour from the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. I quite like a bit of crunch so I’ll be adding chopped walnuts and some seeds when I make mine.
Have you got any great pumpkin recipe ideas to add to the list?
This post is written in collaboration with Organix for the #NoJunk Challenge. To find out more head over to the website where you’ll find lots of inspiring recipes and tips to cut out the processed junk.