Don’t just decorate with pumpkins, bake and puree them into pumpkin mini muffins

Once the trees start turning yellow and our footsteps are followed by the crunch of dead leaves, pumpkins start popping up on front porches. For one night of the year, they leer at us with grotesque faces, shining their light on trick-or-treaters. But besides serving an ornamental purpose, they make a delicious filling for several types of food, including pumpkin mini muffins! I’ll tell you how you can roast and puree your pumpkin into something delicious.

The difference between Jack-O-Lanterns and sugar pumpkins

In grocery stores you’ll be able to find either huge carving pumpkins, or smaller baking pumpkins.

Janine Kolotyluk, a home economist at Atco Blue Flame Kitchen, said that while carving pumpkins are edible, they aren’t ideal for making pumpkin pie and other sweet desserts. Sugar pumpkins are much smaller and sweeter than carving pumpkins, and are ideal for pumpkin pie and muffins.

Photo by: Silvia Pikal.

“The ones you would get that would taste more like pumpkin out of a can have names like sugar pie,” Kolotyluk said.

“They are smaller, sweeter and more flavourful.”

I used a sugar pumpkin to make pumpkin puree for mini muffins. A sugar pumpkin won’t have much guts, as its grown for its thick flesh that you can make into puree.

Carving pumpkins have thinner flesh as they’re grown for carving into the skin, and they’ll have a lot of guts. You can use the guts for bread and eat the seeds.

How to make puree from a sugar pumpkin

Pumpkin puree can be used in pie, muffins, oatmeal and many other recipes that requrie a filler. Pumpkin is very high in vitamin A, which is crucial for eye health.

Photo by: Silvia Pikal.

1. Cut the pumpkin in half. Caution: use a big, sharp kitchen knife and be careful – it will be quite difficult to cut. Watch your fingers!

2. Scoop out the pumpkin pulp and separate the seeds from the pulp. Save the seeds – you can roast and eat them!

3. Discard the pulp. A sugar pumpkin is grown for its thick, sweet flesh so it will have very little pulp. A carving pumpkin will have a significant amount of pulp that you can use to make pumpkin bread.

4. Cut the pumpkin into slices like you would a watermelon and place on a baking sheet.

5. Bake the slices of pumpkin at 375 F for one hour and a half. You’ll know it’s done when you can easily pierce the flesh with a fork.

6. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and allow it to cool. When it has cooled, scoop the pumpkin flesh from the rind and put in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Discard the rind.

7. Store in a glass mason jar in the fridge for up to three days until ready to use the puree. You can also freeze the pumpkin in a plastic bag.

Now it’s muffin time!

Pumpkin mini muffins recipe

Ingredients These pumpkin mini muffins are free of oil and are very low in fat, and have a good amount of protein due to the use of whole wheat flour and organic cane sugar.

Photo by: Silvia Pikal.

3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup apple sauce
2 tbsp chia seeds with 1/2 cup water
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease paper liners with oil.

2. Mix chia seeds with 1/2 cup water until smooth. The chia gel acts as a binder and the superfood adds protein, fiber and omega 3 to the muffins. In a bowl, mix the chia seeds with cane sugar and apple sauce. Add pumpkin and 1/4 cup water.

3. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.

4. Add the wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.

5. Grease muffin cups with oil. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes at 350 F. For a moist, soft muffin bake for 12 minutes; for a firmer pumpkin bake longer, but taking care not to burn the muffins. For regular-sized muffins, bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see if they’re done with a toothpick.

What to do with those carving pumpkins

If you’ve already carved your pumpkin and left it outside, Kolotyluk said it’s not safe to eat the next day.

“When you’ve carved it open, it’s exposed to air and a light source,” Kolotyluk said.

“It’s the same with food left out on the counter for a couple of hours or days. It’s not safe to eat. If you’ve made your carving pumpkin into a Jack-O-Lantern you can’t eat it for safety reasons.”

However, while carving the pumpkin, you can use the pulp to make pumpkin bread, and roast the seeds.

How to roast pumpkin seeds

 Pumpkin seeds are high in healthy fats, magnesium, zinc, iron, protein and vitamin K, so eat up!

Photo by: Silvia Pikal.1. Soak the seeds in a bowl of water for an hour or longer. This will make the pulp fall away. Drain and remove large pieces of pumpkin, but the seeds shouldn’t be squeaky clean, as this will remove flavour from the pumpkin.

2. Put the seeds on a lightly oiled baking sheet.

3. Sprinkle the seeds with seasoning salt. Bake for one hour at 400 F, turning them every 20 minutes. You’ll know they are done once they’re completely dry. Watch them closely to make sure they don’t burn. If roasting sugar pumpkin seeds, be careful as they are much smaller and will require a shorter baking time.