It’s FALL, my favorite season, and that means PUMPKIN! I am basically in love with all things pumpkin flavored—coffee, soups, and anything baked! Pumpkin itself is a fantastic food—rich in fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and potassium, pumpkin is a tasty and nutritious addition to just about anything you can think of. In baking, pumpkin adds moisture and density, and its texture is unmistakable. I love to add it to my oatmeal pancakes, protein pancakes, smoothies, curries, cookies, breads, and just about anything else I can squeeze it into!
Last year, at the very beginning of my Unwrapped adventure, my daughter challenged me to baking a pumpkin pie. At the time, I was in the process of working through my list of taken-for-granted packaged foods in an attempt to learn how to make everything from the source. Her request threw me for a loop—I had absolutely no idea how to derive pumpkin puree from an actual pumpkin, and it hadn’t even occurred to me that it might come up. I felt intimidated and completely unprepared to turn jack-o-lantern material into food! Somehow, though, I figured it out and through trial and error I learned the ins and outs of preparing pumpkin.
Did you know that many “pumpkin” foods, including pies, are made with sweet potato or squash instead of pumpkin? I did not! Imagine my surprise when I cooked my first pumpkin and ended up with a pile of yellow mush that looked nothing like the brown puree that comes in the can! I learned to look for certain varieties of pumpkins, such as sugar pie and baby bear (sounds like pet names, no?), which are smaller and tastier than your typical jack-o-lantern pumpkin. I have also found that to get a sizeable amount of puree, I need several of them.
For pies and baked goods I actually prefer to mix pumpkin and sweet potato. Sweet potato is not only an optimal carbohydrate that is preferred by most bodybuilders—it is also much easier to work with and is sweeter than pumpkin, which eliminates some of the need for additional sweeteners. And honestly, it looks much more like the canned pumpkin we’re all used to seeing.
Today, I had a brown banana and a small pumpkin on my kitchen counter, and I had to do something with them before it was too late. I came up with a pretty impressive recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, if I do say so myself! As always, my challenge is to create recipes that are not heavy in butter, sugar, oil, or gluten—while passing the kid test. This one passed–my seven year old daughter loved them!
To avoid gluten, I use oat flour. You can use a food processor to make your own if you don’t have any handy—simply pour some oats in and chop them up. If you don’t mind the extra fats, you could also use almonds or almond meal, or some combination of oats/almonds. I also used splenda.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies:
- 1 cup pumpkin/sweet potato puree
- 1.5 cups oat flour
- 1 mashed banana
- 1 egg
- Nutmeg (I have no idea how much I used of either spice)
- 1/2tsp vanilla
- ½ cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¾ cup splenda
Preheat oven to 350. Mash banana until it is nearly liquid; stir in the splenda until the mixture is smooth, and then stir in egg and pumpkin. Add the remaining ingredients to the pumpkin mixture. Spoon onto cookie sheet—these cookies are dense and will not spread out, so I recommend making smaller cookies. Bake for 14 minutes. This made about 20 cookies.