Pumpkins, a type of squash, have been cultivated in the Americas since ancient times. The pumpkin seed, like the hemp seed, is high in good-quality protein. Both are also high in iron, zinc, magnesium and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Herbal medicine regards pumpkin seeds as an important parasitic worm remedy. Pumpkin seeds also have a balancing effect on the prostate gland.
Pumpkins are, of course, synonymous with Halloween, which was originally known as ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ (the day before All Hallows’ Day, or All Saints’ Day). It comes from an ancient Celtic ritual on 31st October, the end of the harvest and beginning of winter.
It is believed to be one of the times when the boundaries between the physical and spirit worlds become blurred, so spirits can cross the boundary and create mischief.
If you can’t beat them, join them.
This led to the dressing up as witches and such like. The Halloween lantern tradition symbolises Jack O’ Lantern, one of those spirits who sold his soul to the devil on the condition that he wouldn’t go to hell. Unfortunately, he was not allowed into heaven either! So he’s said to still roam the earth with his trademark lamp.
Originally the lanterns were made from turnips and then swedes, but these were hard to cut and make into a lantern face. Immigrants to the USA found pumpkins much bigger and easier to cut and hollow out, and started using them instead.
A type of loaf, Barm Brack, is part of the Irish Halloween custom. It traditionally contained various objects baked into the bread as a sort of fortune-telling game—often a medallion, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin or a ring. These, when received in a slice, conveyed a special meaning: the medallion foretold a special blessing; the stick, disputes to be resolved; the cloth meant bad luck; the coin, good fortune; and the ring would indicate marriage.
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 leek (washed and sliced)
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 bay leaf
500 g butternut squash (peeled and chopped)
500 g sweet potato (washed and chopped)
1 litre water
1 tsp grated ginger
4 tsp bouillon powder
Half cinnamon stick
- Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Allow them to pop for a few seconds.
- Add the other spices and leeks. Saute for a few minutes.
- Add the veg, ginger and water and simmer for 35 minutes.
- Remove the cinnamon and bay leaf. Then liquidise.
- Season with bouillon powder.