With that in mind, my wife and I decided to make a regular effort to build memories like that with the six-year-old grandson we blessed to be raising. My friends Jennifer and Nathan Cross, owners of Cross Plants and Produce in Kyle have a wonderful annual pumpkin patch event that is heaps of fun. In fact, their unique plant nursery and produce market is loads of fun year-round but in October they are transformed into a sea of orange. Their store, painted to look like an old-fashioned red barn, is filled with local treasures such as kettle corn, fall cookies and treats as well as the best milk, eggs, honey, meats and produce you've ever tasted. Many of their gorgeous landscaping plants are Texas natives and entice you to stroll through the property. The site includes picnic tables and kids play areas that encourage families to not only shop but to stay and play or enjoy snacks and picnics outdoors. Building memories of family fun! Oh, and to complete the farm feel they have two neat pets, Spot and Shorty, the mini donkey and mini horse.
Pumpkin picking has proven to be one of the most beloved of our family holiday traditions. Even my grown children wanted to get the family together this year to go to the pumpkin patch at Cross Plants and Produce. It really became a wonderful outing that I know we will all remember for a long time to come. Their spacious facility, covered in lovely trees, allows the kids plenty of room to run and play and we got charming photos at their many Halloween and autumn themed photo spots. My grandson and I even got to paint a pumpkin while the adults went hunting for the perfect pumpkin to carve. They have a hay pyramid to climb, a tunnel to crawl through, a tractor to explore, a play house for imaginations to run wild, and even an old-fashioned tree swing that let us fly like a bird! We took a picnic basket and stayed for several hours just enjoying the surrounding and each other’s company. Again, building memories that will last a lifetime.
While the memories alone are a great reason to take the family to the pumpkin patch, don’t forget that there are great health benefits to be found in this “king of the gourds” as well. Yes, if you thought the main thing pumpkins were good for was making scary jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, you’re missing out on the best part. While you are carving you pumpkins into intricate designs don’t forget to save the fibers and seeds inside, so you don’t miss out on the powerful nutrients they have to offer.
The word pumpkin may have originated from the Greek word ‘Pepon’ meaning large melon, but this fall favorite is an all-American all-star! Pumpkins are believed to have come from the ancient Americas with the American Native peoples introducing them to the Pilgrims which served as an important food source for the Europeans during winter months. And, with the exception of during the fall and winter, it’s too bad many of us don’t make use of pumpkins as a food source more often as they are an extremely nutrient dense food. We may only think of using pumpkin for making pumpkin pie but there are many other ways it can be used such as in soups, salads, muffins, bread, smoothies, and even as a healthier substitute for butter.
Pumpkins pack a healthy dose of fiber, which is proven to support digestive health, regulate blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart disease. Basically, the more fiber, the better. And to that end, pumpkin is an obvious choice. Plus, you will feel fuller longer because pumpkins are low in calories (only about 50 calories per cup) and are very filling (due to the high fiber content), pumpkin is an excellent choice for those looking to trim their waistlines. Adding pumpkin to a recipe can instantly make the average soup, muffin or casserole much healthier, and much tastier.
And don’t forget about my favorite part of the pumpkin, the seeds! Yes, even pumpkin seeds are healthy, and some might even argue, the most delicious part of all. Pumpkin seeds are naturally rich in plant sterols, which have been shown to reduce LDL (or “bad” cholesterol) in studies and might even ward off certain types of cancer. So, go ahead. Roast them, toast them, bake them, just eat them! But please go easy on the salt.
No matter where you go to get you pumpkins this year, take the time to make it an event, make a memory! For more info on Cross Plants and Produce visit their website or look them up on facebook.
Happy Gardening and Happy Halloween!!