First Original Food “Challenge”: Death by a Pumpkin

Can you recall any food-eating contest or any food-related challenge that you saw online or even at some sort of fair? I always thought that those competitive eating events serving pies, hot dogs, chicken wings, burgers, pancakes, tamales and all kinds of other hearty comfort foods were just recipes for death and disaster. Not exactly my favorite part about American culture, but as my love for healthy eating, cooking and food experimentation blossomed, I started developing such strong likings towards certain foods–SWEET POTATOES–that I have strongly believed that I could never get sick of eating them all day every day. Until now.

That’s right, folks. I attempted my FIRST food-related challenge a week ago. What’s interesting is that it wasn’t originally meant to be a challenge at all, and I actually had no possible foresight that I would even view this experience as a food challenge! I recall purchasing my first kabocha in MONTHS at Food 4 Less a couple of weeks ago, feeling vigorously pumped about creating a breakfast that was not a sweet potato plate for once! Sure, kabocha and sweet potatoes have similar traits, but in my heart, kabocha is something uniquely special. It’s not quite dry and droopy like orange pumpkins, nor is it too sweet like red or orange sweet potatoes!

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Preparation and cooking time both took forever–baking being almost two hours, with peeling the skin off and decorating the plate taking more than twenty minutes. However, I say the results were absolutely worth it given the beautiful pictures. On the other hand, I was stoked to start digging into my creation!

First bite: HEAVEN. The reminiscence of the savory squash reminded me of how much I enjoyed noshing on my Thai curries and other home-cooked meals prior to living in college. It did not occur to me that I would even feel threatened by a kabocha, let alone get sick of it. However, by my thirty-third bite, I couldn’t bear the smell or sight of it as the block of food in my stomach continued to expand. It almost shocked me that I overestimated the volume of food I could fit into this meal. I ended up finishing all of the toppings and two-thirds of the pumpkin, leaving leftovers that I ended up using for a delicious Sunday breakfast that week.

Let me tell you, the post-pumpkin coma felt unreal. I plopped on my bed, not ready to fall asleep, but feeling so worn out and fatigued that I could barely drag myself to work productively. It almost felt as if I just finished lunch at an Indian buffet, drank three liters of water, then had dinner at an all-you-can-eat taco party and finished the night off with free ice cream sundaes. Yes, saying that I felt like absolute crap would be an understatement.

I was relieved to have the chance to bite into something spicy and savory by the time dinner rolled around. My mushroom marinara Banza pasta did not disappoint! However, I made the mistake of chomping on some kabocha skins with Sriracha afterwards, because it only induced the terrible heaviness of pumpkin back in my mouth. Immediately I shoveled the skins back in the fridge and didn’t touch or look at them until the end of the week.

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WHAT I DID RIGHT

Overcooking the kabocha slightly helped the eating process since the baking yielded a much lighter, softer and fluffier texture that made everything easy to chew and swallow quickly. Secondly, adding spices, heaps of sunflower seed butter, cereal, maple syrup and other toppings highly enhanced the flavor of the pumpkin. But really, I wasn’t going to ever set myself up to eat a plain kabocha–how boring would that be?! And lastly, distracting myself by talking to my roommates and looking at my phone also shifted my focus away from my satiety levels, which I do NOT recommend you do on a daily basis.

MY MISTAKES

The feat could have been less challenging had I not drank a whole bottle of water prior to my meal and consumed other toppings that were probably more satiating such as the protein from the 2-ingredient protein “frosting” as well as the fats from the sunflower seed butter, which I do believe is a little unlikely given that I am prideful in the thought that I can eat my bodyweight in any kind of nut or seed butter!

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OVERALL

Do I recommend that anybody do this challenge? Absolutely……NOT. Any type of pumpkin is bound to be very satiating for a very high volume of food. The high water, fiber and carbohydrate content will definitely fill you up fast, and you will only feel worse if you try to power through the challenge even further. In general, I don’t believe that food challenges are any feats that should be pursued on a regular basis, unless if it doesn’t involve stuffing in as much food as you can in one sitting or consuming  more than three times the amount of calories you’d eat in a day.

Truthfully, however, if you really want to pursue something like this for the sake of curiosity, then I suggest doing a bit of research in preparing for these challenges and making sure that you know what to do with the food if not all is finished, and if you are in good conditions to do so. I mean, really, nobody is actually stopping you from eating a whole pumpkin!

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OFFICIAL RULES

  1. You can consume any variety of pumpkin.
  2. The pumpkin must weigh at least 5 pounds depending on your build. My kabocha squash ended up weighing approximately 6.56 lbs (costed $5.12 for $0.78/lb).
  3. You do not have to eat the peel (if edible) or seeds of the pumpkin.
  4. You must consume the whole pumpkin in an hour maximum.
  5. You are allowed to consume the pumpkin with other foods, so as long as you eat the whole pumpkin.

Would you ever attempt Death By a Pumpkin? Have you ever successfully accomplished a food challenge yourself?


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