The delicious and versatile pumpkin

Pumpkins are more than jack-o-lanterns and pie. They are sweet, savory and one of fall’s signature crops, the rockstar of the squash family. Nutrient-rich pumpkins add flavor to a host of dishes from ice cream, sorbet and cheesecake to risotto, soup and stew. Hollowed out eating pumpkins, pie or sugar, also make great soup bowls.

Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy inside, the seeds, the leaves and even the flowers. When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted. In its native North America, it is a very important, traditional part of the autumn harvest, it can be eaten mashed and make its way into soups and purées. It can also be used to flavor both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Soft-serve frozen yogurt will be everywhere this autumn and canned pure pumpkin has already become available at almost any store. So it’s only natural that the two have come together in this month’s biggest trend: pumpkin frozen yogurt. The seasonal flavor has been appearing at nationwide fro-yo chains faster than a Halloween costume quick-change. Look for it at Mango, Pinkberry and Forever Yogurt.

Like pumpkin pie, you can enjoy Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Chai hot or cold. Unlike pumpkin pie, Pumpkin Spice Chai is ready in moments – you just add water and enjoy. You’ll also enjoy the price of $4 for each 10-ounce canister. You’ll find it in the coffee and tea section. Also, Whole Foods once again is carrying their incredible Pumpkin Pecan bread ($5).

There’s something comforting about pumpkin recipes around this time of year. It could be that most of them use spices like cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg and ginger. Or it could be that most pumpkin dessert recipes make us turn on the oven and warm up the house. Are you ready for the season?

Perfect for snack time, roasting your own pumpkin seeds is simple, tasty and fun. Here are a few options for spicing up these crunchy goodies, or feel free to make your own spice combinations:

For spicy pumpkin seeds, mix 1/2 teaspoon each garlic salt, cumin, coriander and cardamom with seeds and oil before roasting.

For sweet pumpkin seeds mix 1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger and 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar with seeds and oil before roasting.

Pumpkin cocktails have always been a favorite fall flavor, especially for Halloween and Thanksgiving parties. You will surely impress your guests this year with this easy to make pumpkin cocktail!