Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pumpkiny Goodness

Ok, let's be truthful: How many of you use canned goods out of convenience, laziness or thriftiness? No matter how I try to justify the health benefits, I often find myself opening up that can of chickpeas or black beans instead of planning ahead and soaking up some try ones, or turning to canned tomatoes when I need a quick pasta sauce. I'm guilty, and I'm sure a lot of you are as well. We do our best, but sometimes, the can just wins over.

Not this time! And this is serious -- we're talking homemade pumpkin puree! Yup, pumpkin puree. Before this year, I had never really worked with pumpkin too much. I had tried pumpkin pie, but I'd never really got my hands dirty with the seeds, or waited patiently for it to roast in the oven. So, when I saw that the local market was selling little sugar pumpkins at 2 for $1.49, I knew my time with pumpkin was about to begin. And it has been a most delicious journey. After splitting, gutting and roasting the pumpkin in a 350 degree oven with a splash of water, I was left with the most fresh-tasting pumpkiny goodness you could imagine. A quick buzz in the blender and it was good to go. I have made pumpkin loaf, pumpkin and black bean soup ... and these yummy pumpkin cookies. Not only are they chewy, sweet, spicy little packages of autumn, but they're healthy and vegan. What more could you want out of a cookie?

But I warn you: these cookies are not dessert-y. If you're not into cookies packed with seeds, dried fruits and that nuttiness of whole wheat flour, then you're going to be disappointed, because they definitely taste healthy .. in a good way .. in a very very good way. I only made a little tweak to the original recipe to reduce the amount of oil and also replacing the molasses for maple syrup (which I have come into an abundance of just recently). A cookie or two definitely helped to pick up my energy level after a morning of parent-teacher interviews, and the process of baking them helped me to relax and ease into my semi-long weekend. You should go ahead and bake up a batch while we're all still in pumpkin mode.

Fruity Pumpkin Cookies
adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

1/3 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries
splash of water
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup of large flake oats
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of cardamom
1/4 cup of raisins or dried cranberries
1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds

1. In a small saucepan, cook the cranberries in water until they pop and start to break down. Turn off the heat and smash with a fork.

2. Whisk together the cooked cranberries, pumpkin, sugar, oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Sift in the flour and spices and stir.

3. Add the oatmeal, raisins and pumpkin seeds and give it one final mix.

4. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough on a sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the tops get a little bit brown. Savour that pumpkiny goodness!