Supermarket Score: Pumpkin
“Supermarket Score!” is all about taking a look at the great deals and delicious meals that are hidden in commonly found supermarket items.
It’s that blissful time of year where pumpkin starts emerging in all forms from muffins and martinis, to lattes and lobster rolls (well, maybe not so much the latter). The point is, now is our chance to savor as much pumpkin as possible – and with good cause! Pumpkin has a low glycemic index and is a great source of fiber and vitamin A. Plus it’s readily available (en masse especially this time of year) in the supermarket baking aisle
But what to do with it beyond quick breads and pies? Check out these four great ideas for making seasonal (and even year-long) use of this harvest favorite.
By now I’m sure we’ve all heard the ‘ol calorie cutting diet trick about swapping apple sauce for some of the fat in baked goods, right? Pumpkin serves the same purpose and, in my opinion, is even better. Canned pumpkin has less water than applesauce and, I feel, keeps baked goods even more moist after baking. Plus it’s earthy flavor and reduced levels of natural sugar pair well with deep flavors like chocolate without making them overly sweet. Try using an equal amount of canned pumpkin for the oil in your next batch of brownies and see if you can tell the difference.
PUMPKIN CREAM CHEESE
Having written this post a couple of days before posting it, I was thrilled to see that fellow RR blogger, Christina, had posted a blog with the same delicious idea in mind. While she kicks it up a few tasty notches with the addition of sugar, pecans, and spices, I like to keep mine old school by mixing together 1/4 cup of pumpkin with 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese. The clincher here is to not go too heavy on the pumpkin, as your spread will be too watery. Serving it on top of whole wheat or multigrain bread will also help to bring out more of the pumpkiny flavor. With either version, you’re surely in for a delicious morning.
WARM PUMPKIN CIDER
I have to make a confession: I don’t love hot apple cider. I know it’s a nearly punishable offense, being a kid from northern New York and all, but I just prefer it cold. Many of my friends and family, however, love it, so I gladly oblige when they come over. Last fall, seeing the need to use up some leftover pumpkin that was in the refrigerator, a harvest classic was born. For each serving, warm up 1/4 cup pumpkin with 3/4 cup apple cider. Grate in a little nutmeg, spike it with a shot of spiced rum or vanilla-flavored vodka, and let your cozy evening on the couch begin.
HARVEST CORN MUFFINS
I was a baking & pastry major in culinary school and love taking the time to craft a beautiful loaf of bread or batch of muffins. I also have the softest spot in my tummy for corn muffins made from a boxed mix. There’s just something so comforting about passing them around at the dinner table. Next time you’re whipping up a batch, try this harvest-inspired variation: Use 1 small box of mix, 1 egg, 1/4 cup milk, and 1/4 cup pumpkin. Garnish them with 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or pumpkin seeds and bake according to package directions. (In thinking about it, they’d even be delicious topped with a little bit of streusel and served for breakfast…).
Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has. Probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary team on Rachael’s daytime talk show, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day, and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest twEATs on Twitter at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.