Pumpkins are everywhere this time of year, from our porches to our dining tables, and are often overlooked as anything other than Jack O’ Lanterns.  We discovered why the celebrated pumpkin can be much more than a spooky decoration.

Health Benefits

Pumpkins are packed with vitamins and many other nutrients.  With their high carotenoids (the same nutrient that makes carrots orange) and lutein content they are anti-aging, cardiovascular and eye protecting pumpkin powerhouses. Surprisingly, they also contain protein. The pepetias (pumpkin seeds) hold up to 7 grams of protein per serving.  The seeds are also a great source of essential fatty acids that protect against cancer, promote healthy skin, regulate blood pressure, and improve brain power.  Pumpkins are high in vitamin A (good for eye health), free-radical fighting vitamin C, bone boosting magnesium, and potassium and Zinc (great for immunity and fiber).

 

Cooking with Pumpkin

It is time to think outside the pie!  Pumpkin can be used in both savory and sweet dishes.  It can be used as a warm side dish, a salad, a soup or stew, a main course, dessert, and even as a serving vessel.  Save the big pumpkins for carving and choose the smaller, more manageable varieties for cooking and baking.  For soups and stews try the Red Kuri pumpkin. It has a bright color and smooth flesh that purees well; or the Kabocha pumpkin, which is green on the outside and has a dry yellow flesh, which picks up other flavors nicely.  For a stand-alone side dish try the colorful (yellow, orange, white, and green striped) Carnival pumpkin.  It has a long shelf life of up to 3 months and has a flavor profile similar to an acorn squash.  And for baking, the sugar pie pumpkin is best with its bright orange flesh and sweet flavor.

If these varieties are hard to find, substituting acorn or butternut squash would work too or, using organic canned pumpkin is an acceptable substitute as well.

 

Decorating with Pumpkins

Now that we know they can be used for more than pie, what about decorating with pumpkins?  We all know the carved triangle eyes and toothy grin, but we have found a few more creative ways to use our orange round friend: Pumpkin candle holders, a vase, a painted and glittered pumpkin, a pumpkin tureen, a clock, a pumpkin ice bucket for wine or beer or a pumpkin pot potpourri pot.  Be as creative you can with the versatile, delicious, chubby, coral colored, autumn staple–the loveable pumpkin!

 

We’d love to hear your ideas! What are your favorite pumpkin recipes or unique pumpkin decorating tips?

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