BY MAT BATTS
I’m as big a fan of fall as there is, and of course, fall wouldn’t be the same without the many options that pumpkin (both real and artificially flavored) offer us for consumption. Sure, some things may seem over the top—I don’t really need my hand soap to be pumpkin scented to get in the spirit of fall—but a few pumpkin offerings have become staples in my life and truly guide me through the transition from the carefree warm weather of summer to fall’s crisp and cozy grace. Here are my five favorite pumpkin foods.
5) Pumpkin Seeds: As natural as it gets. Pumpkin seeds, fresh from your Halloween jack-o-lantern, make the best fall snack and offer a number of variations to fit any taste. For me, a pinch of salt across fresh roasted pumpkin seeds creates the perfect midday meal if you’re on the go and need something quick. Add some cinnamon sugar instead of salt for a sweet treat after dinner or something heartier like parmesan cheese for a unique hors d’oeuvre.
4) Pumpkin Coffee: Not a food, I know, but pumpkin coffee has stolen the show when it comes to pumpkin-flavored fall options. But you don’t need a sweet drink filled with artificial flavoring to enjoy the taste of pumpkin in your coffee. The addition of a mild pumpkin aroma and its associated spices can really boost your morning cup, even if you take it black. Pumpkin coffee isn’t something I would want to be stuck with all year long, but during the three months of fall, it has become a nice change-up for me and even a point of excitement in the morning.
3) Pumpkin Pie: The one that started it all, pumpkin pie made it cool to be pumpkin flavored. The simple, yet decadent, dessert has taken on many variations but at its core, nothing works better than a natural pumpkin puree spread across a thin pie crust, adorned on top with a dollop of whipped cream. As a child, pumpkin pie didn’t quite measure up for me. It just didn’t seem to register as a dish worthy of the dessert table, but I have grown to know and love its nuances well. If you make one meal from scratch this fall, make it a pumpkin pie, dressed up to your liking.
2) Pumpkin Beer: Like coffee, pumpkin beer has taken on a life of its own. Any self-respecting brewery cranks out a pumpkin offering, and many have done so in a desirable fashion. The thing I like most about pumpkin as an ingredient in beer is its versatility. It works well in lighter beers where it stands out and shows off. But it can also provide just enough zing to complement a roasty, malt-forward stout. In many cases, pumpkin spices tend to work against the idea that pumpkin and beer can blend harmoniously, but when done correctly, there’s no better companion on a fall night around the bonfire than a cold pumpkin beer.
1) Pumpkin Oreos: This is personal bias showing through, but I just can’t get enough of this orange seasonal Oreo cookie. Nabisco works all kinds of flavors into the crème of its Oreos, but none brings me more joy than the pumpkin spice Oreo. Of all the artificially flavored pumpkin offerings out there, the Oreo comes out on top. I’ll take it with a glass of milk or without. It really doesn’t matter. It is not truly fall until I see these small boxes of joy lining the grocery store shelves.