Beyond the Pumpkin Spice Latte: Creative Recipes with Fall’s Favored Gourd

It’s that magical time of year again. While Texas trees don’t blaze with autumn colors yet, it’s undeniable that there’s a certain change in the air during the transition into fall. Halloween decorations adorn doorways and the promise of Thanksgiving break is starting to float into our minds. The grocery stores are displaying huge amounts of gourds and, of course, pumpkins. Pumpkins are inescapable. They flavor everyone’s coffee and adorn every doorstep. They are made into pies and smiling jack o’ lanterns. Instagram accounts fill with photos of people in pumpkin patches. The season of the pumpkin is upon us.  

Story by Raven Cortright
Photos by Jan Ross Piedad

Pumpkin’s rich and cozy flavor is complemented by the fact that this vegetable is jam-packed with vitamins and minerals. There’s no need to be boring and rely on pumpkin spice lattes to get you through the fall. Here are a couple of interesting and easy recipes with pumpkin and pumpkin seeds that can be made in under an hour.

Pumpkin Pie Granola:

This granola is perfect for a quick and healthy breakfast or snack.

Ingredients

-          2 cup rolled oats

-          ¾ cup vegetable oil

-          ¼ cup brown sugar

-          ¼ cup chopped pecans

-          ¼ raw pumpkin seeds

-          ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

-          ½ tablespoon cinnamon

-          1 teaspoon ground cloves

-          A pinch of salt

-          ¼ dried cranberries (optional)

Instructions

1)     Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2)     Mix together oats, pecans, pumpkin seeds and spices in a bowl.

3)     Combine vegetable oil, brown sugar and vanilla in a skillet and heat until everything is melted and well combined.

4)     Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix until evenly coated.

5)     Oil a baking sheet or line it with wax paper.

6)     Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven to stir the granola around on the baking sheet.

7)     Return to oven for 10 more minutes or until golden brown.

8)     Remove from oven, stir in cranberries. Let cool.

9)     Experiment with other ingredients! Add other dried fruits, nuts or honey to make your own unique blend.

Pumpkin hummus:

This twist on a classic adds another dimension to the Middle Eastern staple.

Ingredients

-          One 15 ounce can of cannellini beans

-          ½ of a 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree

-          ½ cup toasted pumpkin seed kernels

-          ¾ cup olive oil

-          1 clove garlic

-          ½ teaspoon paprika

-          1 teaspoon cinnamon

-          1 teaspoon salt

-          2 teaspoons lemon juice

Directions

1) Pour pumpkin puree, garlic and spices into blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

2) Add cannellini beans and olive oil. Pulse until smooth.

3) Pour mix into a bowl and stir in pumpkin seeds.

4) Refrigerate for a few hours until completely chilled.

5) Enjoy with pita chips, on wraps and sandwiches, on salads, or as a dip for fresh vegetables. 

Instant Pumpkin Ice Cream:

Vegan, gluten-free, fruit-based, 25-minute pumpkin ice cream is not too good to be true. Since fall in Texas means a minuscule temperature change from 100 to 90 degrees, ice cream is still a go-to treat. Try this recipe for a healthy dessert and add in your own toppings and mix-ins to fully satisfy your seasonal cravings.

Ingredients

-          4 bananas, chopped and frozen for at least two hours

-          ½ cup of almond milk (or your milk of choice)

-          ½ of a 15 ounce can of pure pumpkin purée

-          1 tablespoon of cinnamon

-          3 tablespoons sugar (optional)

Directions

1) Pull the frozen bananas out of the freezer and pour into a blender or food processor. Add the milk.

2) Blend for a really long time: the bananas will take several minutes of blending before they become smooth like ice cream. It might seem like they aren’t blending at first, but keep pulsing and mixing repeatedly. The bananas will eventually take on a creamy consistency.

3) Once all of the banana chunks are blended and smooth, add the pumpkin purée and blend until combined well.

4) Add the cinnamon, sugar and any other toppings or seasonings you might want to add. Interesting options might be chocolate chips, almonds or pecans, white chocolate chips, etc.

5) Blend until well combined, place mixture into a freezer-safe container and freeze for 15 minutes or until the ice cream is a bit thicker and enjoy!