SUU Blog | T-Bird Nation

3 Reasons to Embrace the Pumpkin

By Southern Utah University on November 13, 2015 in

Alumni

Fall is here, bringing with it changing leaves, cooler temperatures, sweaters and pumpkin spice everything. That’s right, pumpkin products have invaded restaurants, grocery stores and even our Instagram feeds, quickly becoming one of the most beloved food crazes in recent history.

Pumpkin spice products are limited edition

Micah Keith, Southern Utah University (SUU) graduate and innovation manager for Nestle’s baking division, works with a team of marketing professionals to innovate new products for brands like Nestle Toll House cookie dough and Libby’s Pumpkin. Keith contributed to Nestle’s recent roll-out of pumpkin spice morsels. “We are always looking for new products that can make people’s lives better and easier,” said Keith. Attempting to make consumers lives better, many brands are jumping into the pumpkin spice trend by marketing their delicious products as “limited editions”, increasing the urgency to buy pumpkin now. This year, that urgency is even more emphasized as recent news reportssay a shortage of pumpkin crops in Illinois, the United States largest supplier of sugar pumpkins, may reduce the amount of canned pumpkin available for everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving pie.

Pumpkin is actually good for you

Step aside, Kale. Pumpkin is not only popular among supermarket baking brands, but also as a nutritious food option for anyone looking to stay healthy among all those sweet treats. The squash is low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and full of vitamins and minerals. And while you’re eating pumpkin, don’t forget about the seeds. Personal trainer and SUU professor, Christina Manning explains that 1 cup of pumpkin seeds provides a great source of healthy fats and protein. “Pumpkin seeds can be added to sautéed vegetables, mixed green salads, or your favorite hot or cold cereal to add an extra boost of nutrients,” she said. So, next time you pick up a pumpkin at your local pumpkin patch, consider eating, not carving.

Pumpkin is a versatile ingredient

Pumpkin is more than just pie at Thanksgiving or your morning spiced latte, it can be transformed into pasta sauce, a smoothie, a thai-inspired soup, or a spicy chili. The more we experiment with fresh pumpkin, the more creative we get in coming up with new ways to incorporate the iconic flavors of fall into our favorite dishes. Luckily, pumpkin is delicious prepared sweet or savory, maximizing its use during the fall season. Experimenting with pumpkin isn’t complete without the right variety of pumpkin. “Often when our baked goods don’t turn out, we resort to canned,” Executive ChartwellsChef Jeff Gayson said. “But fresh pumpkin makes any recipe ten times better than canned.” Many people think cooking with fresh pumpkin means buying the big orange jack-o-lantern pumpkins at the local pumpkin patch or grocery store, but for the right flavor, Gayson suggests looking for a baking-specific pumpkin. “There’s actually a specific smaller, denser, less hollow pumpkin carried by grocery stores that are grown just for cooking and baking pumpkin-based products.”

For a Q&A with a Nestle innovation manager, nutritional information and unique pumpkin recipes, visit http://suu-1.hs-sites.com/embrace-the-pumpkin-craze