Long before Starbucks introduced the pumpkin spice latte in 2003, pumpkins were underrated and overshadowed by their smaller, colorful cousin squash. After pumpkins’ sweet and spicy espresso of a revolution, however, the fruit became a fall staple enjoyed for much more than just the basic seeds, soup and pie recipes people have long whipped up during the holidays.
Now the almighty pumpkin is celebrated all across America on National Pumpkin Day – which falls on Wednesday this year. The holiday honors the nationwide obsession over pumpkin-flavored goodies and reminds us all that the native North American fruit deserves to be enjoyed for much more than just scary jack-o-lantern carving on Halloween.
The U.S. produces more than 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin a year, so there are a plethora of ways pumpkin enthusiasts can enjoy the orange fruit. Celebrate National Pumpkin Day and try out a few of these fun pumpkin-flavored ideas this week.
Pumpkin Spice White Russian: Add two ounces of vanilla vodka, one ounce of coffee liqueur, four ounces of heavy cream, one tablespoon of pumpkin puree and 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain the mixture over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish the cocktail with a little extra pumpkin pie spice and serve.
Pumpkin Spice Popcorn: Pop a bag of your favorite popcorn into the microwave. While it’s popping, mix two tables spoons of sugar and one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice into a bowl. Once the popcorn is done popping, sprinkle the pumpkin spice mixture over the hot, popped kernels and shake up the bag to distribute evenly.
White Bean Pumpkin Hummus: Using a food processor, blend one cup of canned pumpkin puree, one can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained), two tablespoons of tahini, two-and-a-half tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, two garlic cloves, one teaspoon of cumin, 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika. After blending for a few minutes, add a pink of kosher salt to taste then blend again until hummus has a smooth and creamy consistency. Pour the hummus into the bowl and garnish with extra smoked paprika.
Pumpkin Spice Smoothie: Dissolve three sugar packets (or sugar substitute) into one tablespoon of hot water. Add 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin, 1/2 cup of low-fat soy milk or reduced-fat milk, 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice and 1/2 cup of cold water into a blender. Pulsate the ingredients in the blender about three times then add ice and blend on high until the ice is completely crushed. Dust smoothie with a little pumpkin pie spice and serve.
Baked Pumpkin Donuts: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk one-and-a-half cups white flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, one-and-a-half teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon of allspice in a bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, add one egg, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup brown sugar, one-and-a-half teaspoons of vanilla and 3/4 cup pumpkin puree. While stirring, slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Stir until well blended and add the mixture into a greased donut pan. Pop into the over for 12 to 14 minutes then let the pan cool for a few minutes before transferring donuts into a cooling rack. Brush the donuts with melted butter then sprinkle them with a little cinnamon and sugar before serving.