When You’re Sick of Halloween Candy, Let’s Talk About Eating Pumpkins

Learning to feed yourself can be one of the most terrifying things. Am I about to give myself food poisoning? If I eat this too often will I end up with scurvy? How can I get the most nutritional bang for my buck? Why does this still taste like ass?

With Ode to My Pantry, learn to navigate a grocery store without having a meltdown in aisle three. Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a queer to cook and stave off malnutrition for another semester.


It’s already November! Meaning you’ve almost run out of opportunities to wear and rewear your Halloween costume. Even moreso, this means that your poor ol’ Jack O’Lantern is well on it way to decomposing. If you don’t believe in speeding up that process with firecrackers or pumpkin tossing and actually want to eat it, you better act fast as they tend to last five to ten days. If you had unseasonably warm temperatures, you’re probably out of luck, but if you had a cold snap (without dipping below freezing) this weekend, Gord can get a second shot at the big time.

It’s kind of sad that pumpkins are used more for mere decoration than the true dinner table stars they ought to be. Low in saturated fat and rich in vitamin E, B6, iron and fiber, your plump little pumpkin also comes loaded with potassium, making it perfect for a post-workout pick me up. A member of the Cucurbitaceae family (just like cucumber and watermelon), pumpkin and the other Curcubita are a bit more robust than their cousins. They have a thick waxy skin which should reduce water loss and keep your pumpkins plump and happy for 2-3 months. Just be sure to pick a pumpkin with a firm, solid stem free to ensure a healthy specimen.

So fucking plump! Might as well be called plumpkins.

So fucking plump! Might as well be called plumpkins.

Bring in your Jack O’Lantern and check for any mold or squishy spots. If it gets a clean bill of health, crack it into halves or quarters and lightly brush with olive oil. If you’re hoping for roasted cubes, peel your pumpkin pal and slice it up while it’s still firm and a finger-friendly temperature. But if you just want pumpkin puree skip the peeler. (We can’t all be heroes.) After 45-60 minutes in a 350 degree oven, the flesh should be browned, soft and forkable. Vacate your cubes or eviscerate your orange friends with a spoon before blending.

As an added tip, fill up a bunch of Ziploc bags and lie them flat in your freezer. When they’re frozen stiff you can file them vertically and save a bit of freezer space in the process.

It's always festive fucking gourd season at my house.

It’s always festive fucking gourd season at my house.

Now what should you do with your orange bounty? Earthy pumpkin is less assertive than other gourds, but its back-seat flavour profile and mild sweetness means its perfectly suited to be paired with earthier flavours or substituted for other squashes. Pumpkin and goat cheese risotto. Creamy pumpkin pasta accented with rosemary. Pumpkin and kale pizza. Or my personal favourite, curried pumpkin soup topped with roasted pumpkin seeds.

When it comes to sweet, pumpkin’s moist creamy consistency subs in well for fats and that already ubiquitous pantry proxy. Why not turn your banana bread into pumpkin bread instead? Or pumpkin pancakes? Pumpkin _____? Just be sure to add a bit more sugar since bananas are sweeter than your veggie offering.

But even as we’re rounding out our meals, we all know that pumpkin pie is top as fall comes around. The flavours transfer well to pumpkin bars, granola and veganized pie. If making a dessert each morning seems like too much work, just go the barista route and make a pumpkin spice latte instead. And no, not by buying their syrup (or spending $6 (When the fuck did it become so expensive?)), but by making it instead. Call me crazy, but I think pumpkin spice syrup should contain some pumpkin.

USE GROund ginger, nutmeg and cloves. I probably should have included that.

USE GROund ginger, nutmeg and cloves. I probably should have included that.

Simmer all of the ingredients together for at least 15 minutes until it’s homogenous and fragrant. Strain into a glass bottle, trade with friends and throw your stash in the fridge. Most recipes say it should last around a month, but some friends have been drinking theirs well into the spring. Be sure to use a clear bottle so you can check for any fuzz, cloudiness or extreme discolouration that might make your pumpkin spice latte a little less merry.

If you’re left with a few gourds and don’t think you or your freezer can stomach anymore, you can just slap it on your face instead for a harrowing yet healthy face mask. Mix pureed pumpkin, yogurt, honey, ground almonds and olive oil into a slurry worthy of a pie. Instead of reaching for a pie shell, use a spoon to spread the pie filling over your damp face. After 5-10 minutes, wash it away for soft, moistened skin that’ll have a better chance at surviving this November chill.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Hailing from Vancouver, Kristen's still trying to figure out how to survive Montreal's Real Legitimate Canadian Winter. So far she's discovered that warm socks, giant toques and Tabby kittens all play a role in her survival. Her ultimate goal is to rank higher than KStew in the "Kristen + Autostraddle" Google Search competition.

Kristen has written 139 articles for us.


  1. I made pumpkin pasta with kale last weekend and it was delicious! Now I’m trying to get up the courage to try pumpkin soup…

    • Pumpkin soup is delicious. I roast the pumpkins with onions, garlic and butter in the hollows until they’re soft enough to eat with a spoon and then mix it all together in a food processor with some vegetable stock.

      It’s also good in risotto with lots of parmesan cheese.

      • My favourite thing about pumpkin soup is that it just gets better the more you cook it. So throw it in a slow cooker, forget it for a few hours and by the time you’re back from school/work/being a human being it’ll be a mushy version of itself that requires little in the way of blending!

  2. Pumpkin mac ‘n cheese. Need I say more? Add pumpkin puree to your favorite recipe along with some sage and some chopped walnuts. If you use fontina it’s especially good.

  3. I made both meat and vegan versions of “ginataang kalabasa”, a Filipino dish with pumpkin, green beans and/or pork stewed in coconut milk for my local AS International Meet-up. There were tons of pumpkin baked goods too. Pumpkin is delicious either sweet or savoury.

    • wait a vegan version of that sounds amazing! i would love a recipe! (your meetup participants were very lucky!)

      • As requested, vegan ginataang kalabasa:

        – 2 lb pumpkin (or any squash, I like butternut), 2 inch cubes
        – 1 lb of long beans or plain beans, halved
        – 1/2 lb of okra, cubed
        – 2 cans of coconut cream
        – 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
        – 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
        – 1/4 cup of onion, diced
        – 1 tbsp ginger, chopped
        – 1/2 cup water, room temp
        – salt and pepper to taste

        In a large shallow saucepan (or pot) on medium heat, sautee onions, garlic, ginger in vegetable oil until onions sweat and turn translucent. Add coconut milk and water, raise to high heat and bring to a boil. Add pumpkin, beans and okra, bring down heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over white or brown steamed rice. Serves 4-6.

        This is a rough recipe, as my family usually doesn’t measure out ingredients, but I hope this works for you!

    • @handydandy YOU made that pumpkin green bean deliciousness? YOU GUYS IT’S SO GOOD.

      My [local] gf and I made pumpkin cupcakes from Smitten Kitchen for the same potluck and I think they were a hit!

  4. I looove pumpkin! My favorite is pumpkin pancakes, but there is also a Puerto Rican rice and beans dish (I moved here a year ago), where the pumpkin is stewed with the beans and it is SO good!

    I am also a big fan of pumpkin in soups, whether it is pureed or chopped in chunks.

    Oh! And roasted pumpkin. Yum.

    • Roasted pumpkin! I’ve brushed on butter and sprinkled a little brown sugar to bring out the extra flavours and sweetness (works well for yams too). Mmmmmm….

  5. This may not count but I had a carving contest with my bestfriend and a few guys and I carved boobs out of a pumpkin,and a butternut squash…lighthouse

  6. You always open so many doors of possibilities for me. I’m going to smear pumpkin slurry all over my face and stack tiny cubes of pumpkin in my freezer tonight. Cheers.

  7. FUN FACT: botanically speaking, pumpkins are actually a fruit! and more specifically, a berry. craaaaay!
    But also, pumpkin in allll the things please.
    on another tangent, this also reminded me how much I love sweet potsto brownies!

  8. I know you appear to be talking about pumpkin spice lattes, but really, that syrup sounds like it definitely needs to be in a whiskey-based cocktail of some sort (pumpkin old-fashioneds?).

    • Woah woah woah. Hold up, that is genius. How could I not have thought of that. You will get all of the credit for my future PSL-scented drinking adventures.

  9. yum!

    I am stuck at school eating a mealy apple, a bag of cashews and a protein bar. All I will be able to think about through geology class will be how delisious pumpkin kale pizza sounds.

    Thanks, like I needed more distractions ;)

Comments are closed.