[Fly] Hail To The Pumpkin | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Fly] Hail To The Pumpkin

During the holidays, treat your sweet tooth with pumpkin. Pumpkin is low in calories, and high in potassium, beta carotene, iron, fiber, and vitamins C and E. If you're feeling ambitious, ditch the canned pumpkin and cook up a fresh pumpkin from your local grocery or farmer's market. Be sure to pick a small pumpkin, since larger pumpkins are tough and generally not suitable for eating.

These two recipes also include soy products, which also provide wide-ranging health benefits. Soy can lower cholesterol, increase bone density, and prevent both menopause symptoms and some types of cancer (cancer survivors should check with their doctors before incorporating soy into their diet). Both soy milk and tofu take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked with, so they are usually imperceptible when baking.

Choose low-fat and low-sugar ingredients to lighten these recipes, and choose local and organic ingredients when you can.

How to Cook a Pumpkin

1. Pick a small baking pumpkin.
2. Cut off the top.
3. Scoop out the seeds and pulp.
4. Cut the pumpkin into chunks.
5. Cut off peel.
6. Boil water in a large pot.
7. Add pumpkin chunks to the pot.
8. Boil for 30 minutes, or until tender.
9. Drain pumpkin chunks.
10. Puree pumpkin chunks in a blender.

Pumpkin Gingerbread
2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
3/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
1 cup of vanilla soy milk
1/2 cup of light or mild-flavored molasses
1 cup of canned pumpkin or pureed baking pumpkin
1/2 cup of cinnamon applesauce
1 egg
Lemon curd or whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl. Stir in soy milk, molasses, pumpkin, applesauce and egg by hand or with an electric mixer. Pour batter into two medium-sized greased loaf pans. Bake gingerbread for one hour or until fully cooked in the center. Let cool 20 minutes before serving. Tastes best sliced with lemon curd spread on top or with a swirl of whipped cream.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 9-ounce pre-made graham cracker pie crust
1 cup of crumbled ginger cookies
1 pound of silken tofu, drained
2 cups of canned pumpkin or pureed baking pumpkin
4 ounces of plain or brown-sugar-flavored cream cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place graham cracker crust (still in its foil pan) inside of a metal or glass pie pan to ensure stability. Spread crumbled ginger cookies evenly over the bottom of the graham cracker crust. Set aside. Put tofu, pumpkin, cream cheese, vanilla, egg, sugar and pumpkin pie spice into blender and mix until smooth. Pour mixture into waiting pie crust. Bake for one hour or until top is slightly browned and the edges start to look firm. Cover cheesecake loosely with foil and place in the refrigerator on a trivet that allows air circulation. Allow to cool and firm in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

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