In years past, I've had much fun scouring Houston for pumpkin dishes at local restaurants. Many are available again this fall if you're intent on going out to get your squash on. For homebody pumpkin lovers (or just people fascinated by seasonal products), I offer these top five pumpkin-flavored foods available at your local grocery store.
5. Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts. Pop-Tarts and Oreo are in a race to offer the greatest diversity of flavors, so let's keep the competition going by buying a pack of these instead. Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts are not to be eaten cold, I assure you, but appropriately toasty and paired with some hot chai, they're really not bad.
4. H-E-B Pumpkin Cream Cheese. Why, H-E-B? Because it's cheaper than anything coming out of Philadelphia. Use it to make pumpkin cream cheese frosting, or spread on a warm cinnamon raisin bagel for a perfect snack.
3. Ace Pumpkin Cider. Pumpkin-flavored alcohol is very hit and miss. Many pumpkin beers I've tried taste nothing like squash, while other pumpkin ciders are too sweet. Ace's version is full of autumnal spices and pumpkin flavor in a way that's comforting as well as refreshing. Heat it on the stove (or in the microwave) when the temperature dips below 70.
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2. Dreyer's Slow Churned Pumpkin Ice Cream. Although the all-natural, hand-made stuff available at local ice cream parlors is far superior to Dreyer's, it definitely won't be as low in calories. Each half-cup is just 90 calories and still provides an admirably creamy texture and strong (albeit probably fake) pumpkin flavor.
1. Hood Pumpkin Eggnog. I wish I could mainline this stuff. Hood has managed to preserve all the rich yolky goodness of traditional eggnog with lovely overtones of orange squash and cinnamon. Add a dash of rum and you will really get in the Halloween spirit.