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Pumpkins are not only great for carving fearful Jack-o-Lanterns, but they also serve many practical (and edible) other purposes! From serving bowls to roasted pumpkin seeds, these ideas are sure to satisfy!

Image of a pumpkin cut open.It seems as though almost every household has at least one pumpkin on their front porch this time of year, many of which will be carved into festive Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween, but aside from carving there are many additional uses for the pumpkin! Check out these fun tips to try with your pumpkins this fall.

Turn your pumpkins into serving bowls! These are fun and festive for fall parties. Use smaller pumpkins for individual soup bowls, serving dishes for dips, or your larger pumpkins can be filled with ice and used as a small cooler for your beverages.

Save the seeds! These are one of the most valuable parts of the pumpkin as they are not only flavorful but packed with nutritional benefits. Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are high in fiber, manganese, as well as compounds called phytosterols that have been found to have cholesterol-reducing properties. Manganese is needed to keep bones strong, normalize blood sugar and regulate cholesterol while zinc is an essential element in bone. Follow one of our recipes below to roast your pumpkin seeds and add them to trail mix, quick breads or muffins, top your soups and salads, or snack on them plain.

How to roast pumpkin seeds:

  1. Rinse pumpkin seeds under cold water and pick out the pulp and strings. (This is easiest just after you've removed the seeds from the pumpkin,)

  2. Lay on parchment paper to dry - overnight is best.

  3. Place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Give the seeds a spray of the cooking spray, stirring to coat.

  4. Sprinkle with spices/salt and bake at 325 F until toasted, about 25 minutes, checking and stirring after 10 minutes.

  5. Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

Spice ideas for pumpkin seeds:

  • 1 tsp garlic salt + 1 tsp onion powder + 1 Tbls Parmesan Cheese

  • 3 Tbls white sugar + 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper + ½ tsp salt

  • 1 tsp celery salt + 1 tsp cumin

  • 1 Tbls white sugar+ 1 tsp cinnamon + ½ tsp nutmeg

Make your own pumpkin puree:

Pumpkins are a very low calorie vegetable and contain no saturated fat or cholesterol and are rich in fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Making a puree is an easy way to get those health benefits and can be incorporated into a magnitude of different recipes as desserts, quick breads or muffins, smoothies or even savory soups. You can even substitute pumpkin puree for oil (1:1 ratio) when baking to decrease the fat content of your baked goods!

How to make pumpkin puree:

  1. Using 2-4 lb pumpkins cut the pumpkin in half scoop the seeds out. Bake cut-side down, covered with foil, in a 375 F oven for about 90 minutes or until you can easily insert a knife into the flesh.

  2. Allow to cool, scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. Puree in a food processor or blender adding 1-2 Tbsp of water as needed.

  3. Strain the puree if using for a smooth soup or custard.

More Ideas:

Make a floating pumpkin centerpiece with several mini pumpkins and votive candles. Simple hold the votive over the pumpkin and trace around it. Using a knife carefully cut the circle so that the votive candle will fit snugly into the pumpkin. Repeat with all of the mini pumpkins. Fill a decorative bowl with water and set the pumpkins in the water and light the candles.

Get Glowing Skin! Pumpkin is high in vitamins A and C which are great to help heel and protect your skin from free radicals while the moisture from the pumpkin is smoothing and hydrating. Try this refreshing face mask with some of the leftover pumpkin puree.

  • Whisk together 1/4 cup pumpkin puree and one egg.

  • If you have dry skin add 1 Tbsp honey. If you have oily skin add a splash of apple cider vinegar or cranberry juice.

  • Apply the mixture to your face, avoiding the eye area, and relax for 15 minutes before rinsing it off.

What about the guts?! Pumpkin stock is a great way to use the slimy, icky pumpkin guts after you carve your pumpkins. This stock can be used in any soup or stew that calls for chicken, beef, or vegetable stock. Simply place the guts in a large pot filled with water and bring to a boil. Add several celery stalks and carrots along with a bay leaf and boil for about 30 minutes or until the water has changed to a deeper color. Strain the stock and use immediately or freeze to use later.

Pumpkin Nutrition Facts (1 Cup cooked)

  • Calories 49

  • Protein 2 grams

  • Carbohydrate 12 grams

  • Dietary Fiber 3 grams

  • Calcium 37 mg

  • Iron 1.4 mg

  • Magnesium 22 mg

  • Potassium 564 mg

  • Zinc 1 mg

  • Selenium .50 mg

  • Vitamin C 12 mg

  • Niacin 1 mg

  • Folate 21 mcg

  • Vitamin A 2650 IU

  • Vitamin E 3 mg

Caitlyn Ferin RD, LD

Caitlyn Ferin RD, LD

Registered Dietitian

Caitlyn graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in Dietetics. She has worked in nutrition at Mid Iowa Community Action and as a clinical dietitian for the Iowa Veterans Home and Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center. Her goal is to help you and your family develop and maintain healthy lifestyles by sharing creative and practical nutrition tips.

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