Yes, I meant to make the title sound like it could never deliver. Sometimes I see these kinds of ads, you know, the “101 year old man used this cream and now his…!” and I can’t help but click it.
SO ANYWAY, WHAT IS THIS GIANT ORANGE BERRY AND WILL IT CURE MY RASH?
Well, the giant orange berry is the pumpkin, and though I’m not sure about the rash, the pumpkin is pretty amazing.
I absolutely love pumpkins. I love the way they look, they way they feel, the way they smell, and the way they taste. If I had to choose 3 things to bring with me on a deserted island, I’d choose pumpkin seeds, High Tide in Tuscon by Barbara Kingsolver, and the complete episodes of The Wire. Of course, I’d die. But I’d die happy, clutching a bunch of seeds in one hand, Kingsolver’s essays in the other, and staring at my useless set of dvd’s (seeing as I have no computer), only slightly wishing that I would have brought a portable desalination machine and a solar powered chain saw.
But I digress…
Did you know that the pumpkin is my spirit fruit?! Yes, that’s right. My spirit fruit. A pumpkin is not a vegetable. In fact, it’s actually a berry. In order to attain berry-dom, you must be a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary, and this applies to the lovely pumpkin.
Pumpkins belong to the family Cucurbitaceae (which includes cucumbers, melons, squash, and gourds). The bigger pumpkins are best for carving, but the smaller, pie pumpkin varieties are good to use for cooking since the flesh is more tender and the flavor sweeter. When it comes time to pick your cooking pumpkin, choose a pumpkin that is heavy for its size, has a hard rind, and is free of blemishes or bruises.
Pumpkins, According to Traditional Chinese Medicine
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the pumpkin is a potent spleen-tonic. It can relieve dampness and help regulate blood sugar, two things from which most of us can benefit. It can also promote discharge of mucus from the respiratory tract and regular consumption could help bronchial asthma. Pumpkin is also used to treat nausea, erectile dysfunction, and prostatitis.
And pumpkin seeds?! Also awesome! The seeds (also known as pepitas) can help drain dampness. It’s suspected that they can also help dispel round worm and tapeworm (the seeds of pumpkins are believed to contain a deworming compound called cucurbitacin which has been used to expel tapeworms and roundworms in domestic livestock for years). The seeds, and the oil from the seeds have also been valued for their anti-microbial benefits, including their anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Pumpkin seeds are also a valuable source of zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, and they provide us with vitamin E in a wide diversity of forms (we are likely to get more health benefits when we consume foods that contain a vitamin in all of its different forms).
10 Ways to Enjoy the Spleen-Loving Pumpkin
Pumpkin is a sadly underutilized fruit. Check out these 10 creative ways to add more pumpkin to your life.
1) First of all, let’s get the most important thing out of the way. CHECK OUT THESE AWESOME PUMPKIN-CARVING HACKS! Like, for real. They’re really, really good.
2) Carve a pumpkin, save the seeds! In other words, whether you’re baking with a pie pumpkin or carving a jack-o-lantern, save the seeds and roast them for a delicious treat. Directions: Pick out seeds. Pick off guts from seeds. Rinse in colander. Boil for 5 minutes (this can make them easier to digest, but you can skip this step if you’d like.) Pat seeds dry. Toss with olive oil and sea salt. Roast for 8 minutes in baking sheet at 325. Take them out of oven, stir/toss, and roast for another 5-10 minutes at 325 until crispy. Be careful not to burn the inner seed. Taste test throughout second roasting.
3) Make a pumpkin pi and be the cleverest neighbor on the block (see picture).
4) I found this recipe for a pumpkin seed dip that is traditional to the Yucatán. It’s called Sikil P’ak.
1 ¼ cups raw, unhulled pumpkin seeds
2 plum tomatoes, cored
1 habanero chile, stemmed
3 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
3 tbsp. finely chopped chives
Kosher salt, to taste
-Heat an 8″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin seeds, and cook, swirling pan often, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a food processor, and process until smooth, about 45 seconds; set aside.
-Return skillet to heat and add tomatoes and chile; cook, turning as needed, until charred all over, about 5 minutes for the chile, 7 minutes for the tomatoes. Transfer to food processor with pumpkin seeds along with cilantro, chives, and salt, and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, and serve at room temperature.
5) This recipe was in Saveur and it made my heart skip a beat when I saw it: Pumpkin and Bourbon Mousse.
6) If you are interested in building a boat out of a giant pumpkin and then racing it across the river, then you know you’re a Mainah! Check it out.
7) PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE with coconut cream. Egads.
8) Cilanto & Pumpkin Seed pesto. I almost lost my shnipz when I saw this. Cilantro is my second favorite thing in the world. My daughter is my third favorite.
9) Yes, I’m serious. My daughter is my third favorite thing, after pumpkin and cilantro. I’m not kidding.
Anyway…use pumpkins to flesh out one of the greatest insults ever to exist. I found this insult in The Online Slang Dictionary and I laughed about if for…well, I’m still laughing.
pumpkin positive, adjective: an insulting notation used by doctors in the UK on medical charts. Refers to the implication that a penlight shone into the patient’s mouth would encounter a brain so small that the whole head would light up.