My earliest memory of eating pumpkin comes from when I was about four. My parents had decided to make a bunch of pumpkin stuff from scratch, although the only things I remember for certain were the pumpkin pie and pumpkin pudding. I also remember being violently ill that night. It may not have been related, but I reacted with a strong case of Sauce Béarnaise syndrome* — I developed an aversion to pumpkin. To this day, I still don’t like pumpkin pie.
When I went off to graduate school, I tried to update my tastebuds to a more “adult” standard of eating things I know are good for me, even if I haven’t particularly liked the taste in the past. In some things, I have succeeded; there’s at least one stew made with sweet potatoes that I’m fond of. So my first thought was to try savory preparations of pumpkin — baked pumpkin and pumpkin risotto. I ate them. I’ve even tried a couple different versions of risotto to see if my reaction was just a fluke, but no. I don’t like savory pumpkin.
On the other hand, there is one form of pumpkin I’ve always enjoyed (related to the one form of zucchini I’ve always enjoyed — go figure, my issues include both summer and winter squashes): pumpkin bread. This would be one reason why the most recent issue of my newsletter included a recipe for pumpkin bread. (If you’re not subscribed to my newsletter, which keeps you up to date on anticipated releases, as well as providing recipes, see the instructions at the end of this post!)
Thus, I started trying other forms of sugar-and-flour preparations of pumpkin: pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin scones with pumpkin butter, pumpkin cinnamon rolls… Not only did I like all these ways of preparing pumpkins, but my kids and husband tend to be fans as well. I’ve gotten into the habit of buying one or two pumpkins each fall, roasting** them, and saving the cooked flesh to use in recipes.
The most recent recipe I’ve tried is called pumpkin cheesecake sopapillas. (I found the recipe via Beth Cato and the Holy Taco Church, in case you were wondering — a group of authors who talk about food and books.) Now, I know what a sopapilla is: it’s fried dough that’s deep fried, puffs up, and is served with honey or powdered sugar. I understand that the top layer of these bars, coated with butter, is supposed to puff up in a similar fashion, but mine didn’t. For us, they’re just pumpkin cheesecake (with no egg!) bars — and they are delicious! Also, because the main ingredients are cream cheese, pumpkin, and crescent roll dough, I might have once or twice eaten some for breakfast on the theory that it was “healthy.” (Don’t tell my kids; they’ll want to do the same, or at least the boy will, as he loves these.)
I guess it’s fair to say that I have succeeded in incorporating pumpkin into my diet, although it’s debatable whether my diet is actually healthier with these examples! If you have any pumpkin recipes you think I should be trying, let me know in the comments.
*Sauce Béarnaise syndrome is a conditioned taste aversion based on getting sick after eating a food, so called because Sauce Béarnaise contains egg yolks and when improperly prepared can result in illness.
**I no longer cut up pumpkins before roasting. I put the pumpkin in a roasting pan, put it in the oven at 350F, and let it cook until the house smells like pumpkin and a fork stuck through the skin of the pumpkin shows it’s done. This past weekend, I paid $3 for a pumpkin, roasted it, and got 12 cups of pumpkin purée to use in recipes.