We’re in the thick of it right now. The cinnamon-scented, orange-hued haze of a national epidemic: pumpkin obsession. Pumpkin beer! Pumpkin pie! Pumpkin soup! Pumpkin hair! Pumpkin lampshades! Ok, not really with the hair and the lampshades, but you see what I’m going for here. Truly, I feel like some people would, if they could, turn their souls pumpkin from September to November.
When did everyone start going apeshit over pumpkin? In my mind, it seems like the obsession has rapidly increased in the past few years. Pumpkin has suddenly become emblematic of everything fall: sweaters and leaves crunching and getting cozy by the fire and OOOH SQUEE FOR AUTUMN. If you ask me, this cultural preoccupation with pumpkin has gone way beyond normal. We’re in pumpkin overkill mode. I won’t get too into pumpkin spice lattes and their particular crappiness (more sugar than a bag of Skittles, people!), but the preoccupation with pumpkin food is crazed.
My Google reader is chock full of pumpkin recipes; it’s like a contest to see which blogger can post the most pumpkin-themed recipes at this time of year. I mean, do we really need pumpkin lasagna AND pumpkin ravioli AND pumpkin cupcakes AND pumpkin yumkins? Clearly there’s an audience for this (the pumpkin-loving hordes) but still. Every restaurant is dishing up their “special” pumpkin foods. Everything that can possibly be pumpkin-ized has been pumpkin-ized.
It’s to the point where I actually sort of wonder if people know that canned pumpkin (which I’m sure is what most people use when cooking all their amazing pumpkin foods) is available year round. And pumpkin tastes just as good in February as it does in October.
I know I sound like a grumpy pumpkin-hating curmudgeon, but hear me out. I actually really like pumpkin. Pumpkin pie was my favorite food when I was a little girl, and I love a pumpkin bread or a pumpkin yogurt now and then. It is delicious and it’s really good for you, too. But let’s not forget the wide variety of foods that are in season during the fall, foods that often get overlooked in the OMGPUMPKIN craze. I mean, there’s so many flavors out there. Can we spread the love around a little bit?
Here are a few suggestions of other tasty, healthy fall produce you may want to try. Even if you do cook them alongside pumpkin.
Apples: Apples! Come on, apples! How did apples fall by the wayside? Apples were the king of fall before they were ousted by pumpkin. These are the quintessential American fruit, sweet and healthy and at the height of their perfection this time of year. There are so many varieties to choose from, too: the sweet Honeycrisp, the rosy Gala, the bright red Macintosh. Apples are great in pies, of course, but you can also try cooking them in sautes, salads, and even baking them into chips.
Pomegranate: The “apple of the gods” is also in season during autumn. Pomegranate has been super trendy in the last few years too, due to its antioxidant properties. Drink some juice, put fresh pomegranate in a smoothie or just eat it straight.
Key Limes: Key limes are freshest at this time of year, and yes, you can put them in things other than pies. How about salad dressing or a fresh key lime spritzer?
Asian Pear: Humble and homely-looking, asian pears are kind of the darkhorse of fall fruits. But they’re as sweet as they are ugly. I just made a delicious vegan asian pear and coconut crisp the other day. You could also try them in a salad, poached with a bit of honey, or even pickled.
Turnips: Don’t turn your nose up at turnips. Not only can you carve them up into jack-o’-lanterns just as you would a pumpkin, they’re also surprisingly delicious. Mash with a little bit of cinnamon and butter or caramelize them for a delicious side dish.