Pumpkins are one of the most inexpensive, nutritious vegetables around... right now they're under 20 cents per pound where I live.  One cup (8 oz.) of pumpkin has more than 700% of your daily Vitamin A needs, 7g fiber, 3g protein, 19% RDA for iron, 17% RDA for Vitamin C, and 6% RDA for calcium.  All this for 83 calories and about 10 cents.

We grew a few, but the garden was pretty sad in general and we ended up buying a couple for our annual pumpkin-carving party at Grandma's house.  (To tell you how bad the garden was... the only pumpkins that survived were in the SANDBOX, where one son had spilled some pumpkin guts in late spring.  Yeah.  Go figure.  They even survived our free-roaming chickens.)

So now we have several carved jack-o-lanterns to set on the front porch for Trick-or-Treating.  The day after Halloween they'll get cleaned, sliced, and either cooked or dehydrated and turned to powder. My kids are excited at the possibilities.  Their favorite is pumpkin pie, but this shake tastes just like it, in a fraction of the time!

Pumpkin Shake
1 pint vanilla ice cream (about 4 heaping ice cream scoopsful)
1 1/2  c. milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. pumpkin powder*
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice OR 1/8 tsp. cinnamon plus a dash (to taste) each ground cloves,     ginger, and/or nutmeg
2 Tbsp. brown sugar, OR molasses, OR honey

Put all ingredients in a blender and mix on high until smooth.  Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

*If you don't have pumpkin powder, use 1/2 cup plain pumpkin puree, and reduce the milk to 1 cup instead of 1 1/2 cups.

Optional mix-ins:
2 Tbsp. raisins (add before pureeing so they get finely chopped)
2-3 oz. cream cheese
2-4 Tbsp. chocolate chips

Get this recipe and many more ways to use pumpkin, free, from The Great Pumpkin Cookbook.


 
 
No, this one doesn't have any wine in it; it's not THAT kind of cooler.   It just... makes you cooler.  Both ways.  (Right?)

This is great for using overripe fruit, which is what I happened to have sitting on my countertop.  The pear needed a couple bruises cut off, then it was ready to become part of a cold, refreshing, lightly sweet drink with a hint of mint.

1 pear
1 banana, the darker the better
one 4" sprig of fresh mint
1 tray of ice cubes
2 cups water
1-2 Tbsp. honey, optional

Put all in a blender, run on high until smooth.  Makes about 4 cups.