Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

06 Oct, 2013

Pumpkin carving

As temperatures gradually drop and the leaves begin to change hues, there’s a familiar buzz around campus as students prepare for the all-too-familiar midterm grind. But not to worry, pumpkin spice season is here to nurse us all back into sanity. This fall food trend is back in full force, with this year marking the 10th anniversary of Starbuck’s ever so popular PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte). McDonalds seems to have also jumped on the bandwagon and will introduce their version of the PSL to Canada on October 21st at half the price!

Why are we so pumped for pumpkin? Studies show that we associate their flavour with feelings of nostalgia, such as family memories and holidays, making it classic comfort food. With all its nutritional benefits, pumpkin trumps apple as the new fall favourite in more ways than one. One cup of squash provides 200% of your recommended daily dose of vitamin A, responsible in aiding vision. It’s rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene (resulting in its orange complexion), which keeps skin wrinkle-free and plays a role in cancer prevention. And for those hoping to fit into their skimpy Halloween costumes, you’ll be pleased to know that the gourd is an incredible source of fibre at only 49 calories per cup. Meaning you’ll be full for longer and on fewer calories!

From study supplements to party platters, pumpkin has a place on everybody’s table. With a little creativity, the uses for this friendly gourd are endless. To get you started, here are a few easy snacks to get you through your next study session.

Study Snacks

Cajun Spiced Pumpkin Seeds (via Allrecipes)
Eat these on the run or to season your salad.

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
¾ tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp butter, melted
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Toss pumpkin seeds with Cajun seasoning and salt. Mix Worcestershire with melted butter in a small bowl. Pour over seeds. Stir to combine. Spread seeds onto baking sheet. Roast seeds until browned and crunchy (45 – 60 mins). Turn seeds several times during roasting.

Maple Pumpkin Spice Popcorn (via Family Fresh Cooking)
The perfect balance of salty and sweet.

5 cups of popcorn
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp butter
½ cup of pecans chopped (optional)

In a large saucepan, heat brown sugar, maple syrup and pumpkin spice mix over medium heat. Cook, stirring until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbling (3 mins). Stir in butter until melted and blended. Add pecans and popcorn. Stir until well coated. Allow mixture to cool before serving or storing.

Pumpkin Banana Bread (via Allrecipes)
A delicious breakfast option or afternoon treat.

2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
Raisins, Walnuts and Chocolate Chips all optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, stir together mashed bananas, eggs, oil, pumpkin, honey and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spice and cinnamon. Stir flour mixture into the banana one. Fold in raisins, walnuts or chocolate chips if desired. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean). Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Party Provisions

These tasty alcoholic beverages will be the stars of your upcoming Halloween bash. For the less adventurous, make a trip to Montreal’s McAuslan Brewery & Terrace (5080 St-Ambroise Street), now offering its seasonal Pumpkin Ale.

Pumpkin Pie Shot (via Food.com)
This quick and easy recipe is perfect to serve at your next pre-drink!

1/3 oz Kahlua
1/3 oz Bailey’s Irish Crème
1/3 oz Goldschlager
Cinnamon

Pour the three types of alcohol into a shot glass. Add a dash of cinnamon and voilà!

Pumpkintini (via Brit + Co)
A festive take on the classic cocktail.

2 oz vanilla vodka
2 oz crème de cacao
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cube ice
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Whipped cream to garnish (optional)

Don’t worry if you don’t have a cocktail shaker! Mix vodka, crème de cacao, heavy cream and pumpkin pie spice together with a large spoon. Dip rims of martini glasses into whipped cream and serve immediately.

Spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte (via Inspired Taste)
For the non-alcoholic version, just skip the dark rum and coffee liqueur!

1 cup milk
3 tbsp canned pumpkin
1-2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼  tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ cup black coffee
1 oz dark rum
1 oz coffee liqueur (Bailey’s, Kahlua, etc.)

In a saucepan heat milk, pumpkin and sugar over medium heat, stirring until mixture is steaming. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, spice, coffee, dark rum and coffee liqueur and whisk the mixture until well blended. Pour into your mug and enjoy!

Long ago are the days when pumpkins were restricted to front porches; The pumpkin is currently the most coveted ingredient in North America. Its flavour can be easily incorporated into every meal (and drink) of the day, from salad toppings to your morning cup of coffee. Spice up your October in celebration of this fun fall favourite and praise the pumpkin!

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