Pumpkins are a staple of autumn celebrations in America. One of North America’s most famous native crops is harvested in early to middle fall and can be used for cooking all kinds of dishes. Getting your kids involved with pumpkin cooking is a great way to add to celebrations that revolve around Halloween and into Thanksgiving.
Pumpkins are versatile and can be cooked many ways. Keeping it simple for your kids is the key to cooking with children around the Halloween holiday. Pumpkins are nutritious and packed with Vitamin A, phosphorus, fiber, and beta carotene. Cooking with pumpkins not only can be fun with your kids but also good for them.
Baked or Roasted
Baked pumpkin is very simple to make and all you need is a knife, oven, and baking sheet. Small and compact pumpkins are perfect for baking as they have fewer and smaller seeds with more flesh.
Cutting pumpkins into one inch cubes and then placing them on baking sheet will have bite sized amounts for your kids to eat. If your smaller children happen to eat raw pumpkin it’s no big deal. Baking the pumpkin pieces will make it easier to eat.
Depending upon your children’s tastes you can sprinkle salt or a cinnamon and sugar mixture on the pieces before you put them in the oven. Your kids can help sprinkle them after you cut them up. You can add a cup of freshly chopped onion or coconut, depending upon if you want tangy or sweet pumpkins.
You should bake in the oven on a baking sheet at 325 degrees for about ten minutes or until the pieces are a little brown. Mix the pumpkin pieces with a quarter cup of olive oil so the spices will stick to better to them and cook them more evenly.
If you take the cubed pumpkin and take a masher to it then you have another method of making mashed pumpkin that you can heat up on the stove. Take the one inch cubes and put them in a large mixing bowl. Mash them, with your kids helping, into a nice pulp. You might heat them up in the microwave for about thirty seconds to soften them up.
After they are mashed into a liquid you can add the same spices as before depending upon your family’s tastes. A teaspoon of salt, some pepper, and chopped onions are appropriate to taste for a savory mixture. For something sweeter you can add cinnamon and sugar to taste.
Mashed pumpkin can be heated up in a saucepan on the stove top much like soup. Stir the mashed pumpkin constantly to avoid overheating at medium heat. Once it starts to boil constantly and steam then you have warm mashed pumpkin. The more mashed pumpkin you have in the saucepan the longer it will take to heat through.
Mashed pumpkin can be served warm or cold. It is easy to eat and tastes great and packed with nutrition. If you have smaller children who love to eat with spoons then mashed pumpkin is a great way to celebrate Halloween.
Pumpkin seeds are power houses nutrition as are any plant seeds. Roasting them on parchment paper is a way to keep them from burning too much on one side. Sprinkle the seeds with salt and toss them in a little olive oil before setting them in one layer on a baking sheet and roast them for ten minutes.
Your kids can get involved as little or as much as you want. Smaller kids certainly shouldn’t be using knives but they can organize pieces of pumpkins or seeds on a cool baking sheet before they go in the oven. Kids can help mix ingredients or sprinkle salt or sugar on the pumpkin. You can measure amounts and let them add to the pumpkin before they are cooked.
Pumpkins are great ways to get closer to your kids for fall celebrations. Use this time to teach them about seasonal vegetables and native plants in the United States as a time of celebration of the harvest when you help your kids cook pumpkins in October and November.