Hey, y'all punkin' heads! Autumn is here, FINALLY. Thank God fall is here at last. This is my favorite season and I know I am not alone. One of the many awesome things about fall is the availability of pumpkins. Now I don't mean just the cuttin' up kind of pumpkin for making Jack-O-Lanterns and the Headless Horseman's "head". The pumpkins I am talking about are sugar pumpkins, aka pie pumpkins.
Let's talk about pumpkin for a sec. First, I am a rabbit parent. I have four rabbits that I adore and try to spoil rotten. Any rabbit person knows that pumpkin is the miracle food for bunnies. It is a great source of fiber, the seeds are rich in magnesium, and it just tastes great. Pumpkin is something even sick rabbits will eat willingly, and it also mixes well with Critical Care, which is a food supplement given to small animals when they cannot or will not eat. Rabbit tummies are prone to several kinds of ailments, including wool block, and pumpkin is another great source of fiber besides hay (which should be a rabbit's primary source of fiber). Urine sludge and kidney stones are also a common problem with rabbits, as they pass calcium in their urine and it can build up in their kidneys, just like in your water pipes. Magnesium is a good regulator of calcium, and raw or cooked, unsalted pumpkin seeds are a great way to get magnesium into rabbits. In fact, us humans can probably benefit from more magnesium in our diets, too.
In case you are thinking that only bunnies love pumpkin, let me inform you otherwise. Everytime I open a can of organic pumpkin puree' (NOT PUMPKIN PIE MIX, which has added crap that no pet should eat), our cat, Spider, aka Countertop Cat, will get in my way and harass me until he has a nice big spoonful of his own. Simon, our lab, and Bug, our chihuahua, will also beg for bowls of pumpkin. I have to open two cans of pumpkin at a time; Spider and the bunnies get one can, and Bug and Simon share one. Do you have a guinea pig or chinchilla? A pet rat or mouse? Exotic bird? Do you feed the wild birds in your yard? If you do, and are not giving pumpkin on a regular basis, you are doing a disservice to these creatures! Warmed pumpkin puree' in the morning or at night, especially for exotic pet birds, is the perfect cold weather treat. Also, if you make homemade pet treats (what a great idea for gift giving to your favorite babies), this seedy pulp is the perfect ingredient; there are no preservatives, no added salts, sugars, or chemicals. From carnivores to herbivores, and all other 'vores in between, pumpkin is THE perfect food for us all!
Whole Roasted Sugar Pumpkin with Seeds:
One or more whole sugar/pie pumpkin(s), uncut
Pumpkin carving knife
Toaster oven or regular oven. I used my toaster oven. Enjoy the aroma, it will make your whole house smell delicious and happy!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash, dry, then place whole, uncut pumpkin in a shallow baking pan, stem up.
Bake for 1.5 to 2.0 hours.
Pumpkin is done when it turns from bright orange to a burnt umber/orange. See the difference?
Allow pumpkin to cool. The inside will be much hotter than outside. This baby has pretty much steamed inside the shell. CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO OPEN UNTIL COOL. Once the pumpkin has cooled, use your carving knife to pop the stem off, then carve into about four sections, similar to quartering an orange. The outside will be brittle and hardened. The inside will be a mushy pulp.
Scrape the pulp, seeds and all, into a bowl. Use your butter knife to scrape any pulp still clinging to the inside of the shell. Don't waste any of it.
You will not have to worry too much about storage. Just keep in a closed airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve a little bit to your pets daily. DO NOT ADD ANY SALT, SUGAR, or SPICES. This is pretty bland stuff to our taste buds, but your pets will LOVE it. Do not project your desire for something pumpkin-pie-ish onto your pets. They have a superior sense of smell and taste, and their digestive systems are not designed for the junk we add to food.
I hope you bake up a few these orange darlings while the gettin' is good. Freeze what you can to keep a bit for the holiday season. Your babies deserve it!