I don't really remember ever eating pumpkins, squashes or sweet potatoes as a child (seriously!) probably due to the fact that we lived in the hot, tropical climates of South East Asia and South Florida and the fact that you don't see much of these orange-hued vegetables in much of Chinese or French cooking. So funnily enough, these beautiful vegetables are thus quite exotic to me, as I have had very little contact with them until I moved to the UK when I was 18.
What a discovery! I SO love the gigantic leaves that fall from the trees and the crunch of the crispy leaves as you walk on them. I'm like a child in a toy shop when we go on walks during the autumn: collecting leaves that are bigger than my face and stomping on the little crispy leaves for that satisfying sound. My other half Olly (who is English) finds it very amusing that a full-grown adult can take such pleasure in what seems like such an ordinary occurrence to him :)
I was quite daunted by the prospect of cooking pumpkin, as I had never done so but managed to produce two delicious dishes, which proves that it is very easy! The first was a warming spiced pumpkin soup with coconut milk (recipe for this will follow shortly). After the soup, my sweet tooth had fully kicked in and decided it was time for some fluffy pancakes.
Pancakes are often considered a naughty indulgence but by simply swapping a few key ingredients, namely the refined flour and sugar, they can actually be transformed them into fibre-full and protein-rich breakfasts (or desserts), especially when you add a hearty dose of nutrient-dense vegetables in them.
And pumpkin is perfect for this, with its high moisture content and creamy richness! What came of this exploration of pumpkin were the fluffiest pancakes that we enjoyed as a warming dessert on a cold, autumn evening... Extremely high in fibre and nutrients, pumpkin also packs an abundance of disease-fighting nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, and vitamins C and E. The key nutrient that boosts pumpkin to the top of the superfoods list is its carotenoids, which makes your complexion glow in these cold and vitamin-D deprived months.
So what's not to love? Indulgence that's good for you! OH YES! Proof that you can have your (pan)cake and eat it too!
Pumpkin and Buckwheat Pancakes
150g (1 cup) sprouted buckwheat flour (oat or brown rice flour would work too)
180g (1 cup) pumpkin purée
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/3 cup plant milk of choice (I used Homemade Almond Milk)
20g (2 tablespoons) coconut oil or butter, melted
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla powder
1. Combine buckwheat flour, spices, salt, and bicarbonate of soda.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and eggs
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.
4. Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat. Lightly grease the surface with coconut oil or butter.
5. Once the pan is hot, ladle a bit of batter into the pan and gently spread into circles using the back of the ladle.
6. Cook until bubbles form around the edges of the pancake. These pancakes take slightly longer to cook than regular pancakes so just keep the heat on medium and give them some time. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes on the other side.
7. Serve warm with maple syrup and fresh berries if you like!
Super Tip for Cooking Fresh Pumpkin: As pumpkins have such thick skins they can be difficult to cut through, so I actually just put the pumpkin whole in the oven and let it cook for half an hour, after which point it is easy to cut through and scoop out the flesh. If you manage to cut the pumpkin in half, just place the two halves in a roasting tray with some water in it to steam it, a sort of bain-marie if you like :) until the flesh is soft and "scoopable".