Save the Pumpkins! Eat Them, Don't Just Carve Them!


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

Most people, it seems, have forgotten that pumpkins are edible. This time of year, those gorgeous orange orbs are in season, which most people have interpreted to mean that it's time to decorate with them. While I'm a big fan of keeping healthy food on display--I keep platters of tomatoes, vases full of fresh-cut herbs, and bowls of brightly colored fruit on the counter in lieu of flowers--the pumpkins in yards and on porches are too often left abandoned to rot away as November arrives.

Therefore I'm starting a campaign to SAVE THE PUMPKINS!

Go ahead and carve one for Halloween, but save the seeds. (Full of protein, zinc and even iron, pumpkin seeds make a great snack.) Grab a few smaller ones for eating, too. (The gigantic pumpkins used for jack o'lanterns tend to be dry and flavorless.) Put a few little ones on the counter, but eat them later. In dishes sweet and savory, the mighty pumpkin adds color, nutrition and flavor.

Pumpkins are good for more than just pie.
Mash pumpkin as you would potatoes. Roast it alongside other fall vegetables. (Slice and chunk the pumpkin, but leave the rind intact.) Purée cooked pumpkin with sage, parmesan and some broth to make an interesting pasta sauce, soups and stews.

Stuff those tiny ones with rice, meat or even your favorite quiche mix. Pumpkin mixes well with curry, and it's often included in Thai foods.

Pumpkins are nature's soup tureens.
Those tiny pumpkins make adorable receptacles. Prebake them and fill them with soup, stew, or rice. Fill them with pumpkin pie filling, pumpkin bread mix or even quiche, then bake. You'll save on calories by not using a rich, buttery crust, and serving foods in an edible bowl makes for a pretty dramatic presentation.

Pumpkins don't grow in cans.
Cooking a pumpkin is easy. Pick a pumpkin that's about the size of a cantaloupe or smaller. Their flesh will be moister and sweeter.

Cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin, then scoop out the seeds and pulp.
Then slice pumpkin in half and place on a baking sheet, cut side down.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes until pumpkin is soft.
Once pumpkin has cooled slightly, scoop it from the rind. (The rind is also edible.)

I let mine cool, then place 2 cup portions in freezer bags. Place the bags flat in the freezer for easy storage.

If you bake a pumpkin, you're of course left with seeds.

To roast pumpkin seeds, place them in a colander, then separate the pulp from the seeds. Rinse them well, then place on a baking sheet. Spritz them with nonstick cooking spray, scatter about some your favorite spices (try cumin, pepper, salt and a bit of spicy paprika) and bake at 250 degrees for about an hour, tossing every 20 minutes or so.

Pumpkins are good for you.
Nutrition in 1 cup of mashed pumpkin:
Calories 49.0
Total Fat 0.2 g
Potassium 563.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 12.0 g
Dietary Fiber 2.7 g
Protein1.8 g
Vitamin A 244.6 %
Vitamin B-6 5.4 %
Vitamin C 19.2 %
Calcium 3.7 %
Copper 11.1 %
Folate 5.5 %
Iron 7.8 %
Magnesium 5.5 %
Manganese 10.9 %
Niacin 5.1 %
Phosphorus 7.4 %
Riboflavin 11.2 %
Thiamin 5.1 %
Zinc 3.8 %

How do you like to eat pumpkin?

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    I have yet to try pumpkin in any shape or form.
    But this year I swore I'd try a new fruit or veg as often as possible but only when seasonal
    Can't wait til my next shopping day to buy one.
    Anything I should know when looking for a "good" pumpkin lol? - 10/26/2008   4:45:41 AM
  • 81
    I love pumpkin! Pie, bread, butter. I've not tried it in soup - but after reading this I think I need to. - 10/25/2008   6:05:22 PM
  • ISABEL8565
    Sorry, it was soup, not soap, lol , but you can have a good laugh, jajajajaj - 10/25/2008   11:34:04 AM
  • ISABEL8565
    Great , i will try to eat more pumpkin, i will buy a big one and get a few small one, i use to like pumpkin and still do in soap,but i have not had them in years. - 10/25/2008   11:31:35 AM
  • SERINA59
    I have enjoyed pumkin in a soup Will try one of the recipes on the spark pages the next time will also roast the seeds as a snack. - 10/24/2008   4:40:32 PM
    I love pumpkin mousse, pie and pumpkin slice with cream cheese topping of course. LOL - 10/24/2008   3:07:04 PM
    I live upstate NY, so I have access to the pumpkin patches. I plan on picking up a few pumkins, this post had great ideas on using the entire pumkin. I'm a little excited to present a dish now. - 10/24/2008   10:43:47 AM
  • 75
    I ♥ roasted pumpkin seeds! :-) - 10/24/2008   10:14:40 AM
    I wish I had made the time to plant pumpkins this year!! I'll save this article for next year. - 10/24/2008   9:12:29 AM
  • TAWNYW68
    Now I am really gald we got way too many pumpkins at the patch last weekend! - 10/24/2008   8:07:37 AM
  • 72
    Oh My!!! Wonderful ideas on pumpkin, personally I don't carve them, but it will be nice to utilize all the recipies here on SP think the first I'll try will be the bread, no maybe the smoothie's, no maybe the soup. Heck I don't know! I better get started canning so I have enough for all these great ideas...
    TY everyone, you've sparked me!!
    - 10/24/2008   6:29:43 AM
  • 71
    DANG !!!! ............I have never wanted pumpkin more in my entire life. LOL
    I'll have to run to the store in the morning. YUMPLSTILKIN !! :) - 10/24/2008   3:36:55 AM
    Mmmmm.... I am inspired to make sure I get a few extra pumpkins for cooking with this week. I'm sooo glad it's soup season. :) - 10/24/2008   12:34:56 AM
  • 69
    Oh! and i roast the seeds too. - 10/23/2008   11:51:12 PM
  • 68
    last year was the first year i took our carved pumpkin and made pumpkin filling for 5 thanksgiving pies. i intend to do it again as well as make some pumpkin bread too!. - 10/23/2008   11:50:31 PM
  • 67
    Thank you for this information Stepfanie! You've made some mouth-watering suggestions.

    I've roasted acorn squash, eaten spaghetti squash, but somehow never thought about how easy it would be to roast pumpkin. I'll be trying this soon, as well as using the pumpkin as a bowl & toasting those seeds for my mother. - 10/23/2008   11:29:20 PM
  • 66
    II do make a lot of pumpkin pies over the hollidays and also pumpkin bread. intend making the pumpkin smoothies .Sounds sooo good and good for me too! - 10/23/2008   9:40:04 PM
  • 65
    I get a pumpkin every year for pies... but I'm gonna try some of the small ones as a vegetable! Yum!!! - 10/23/2008   6:22:41 PM
  • 64
    Pumpkin is widely used on the island as a vegetable,in soup,pies and even as a punch (drink) . It'sgrown throughout the year and comes in many varieties, shapes and sizes. I use it regularly. - 10/23/2008   6:17:07 PM
    MMMM - 10/23/2008   2:25:49 PM
    We came home from Church one Sunday to find 3 huge pumpkins on our porch. The lady down the road from us had a huge amount of pumpkins and she was driving around the neighborhood that day dropping them off at houses. I thought that was very thoughtful. I will be making pie and bread this Thanksgiving with her pumpkins! Thanks Peggy! - 10/23/2008   1:57:44 PM
  • 61
    I don't like to eat pumpkin. It tastes awful! So there are more for everyone else. =) - 10/23/2008   1:49:02 PM
  • 60
    In Africa (and probably other places too) pumpkin is commonly served as a vegetable. It can be served the same way as winter squash (mashed, roasted etc). But I like to add it to stews and especially to curries that cook all day in the slowcooker--the pumpkin absorbs the spices and it almost dissolves and thickens the broth. Even those of my kids who don't like squash and pumpkin, like it this way. - 10/23/2008   1:39:27 PM
    yummy, will have to print these - 10/23/2008   1:37:41 PM
  • 58
    pumpkin is yummy! - 10/23/2008   1:25:53 PM
  • 57
    I scoop my pumpkins and freeze it. But sometimes I bottle it in mason jars and then I always have fresh, preservative free, pumpkin to make pies & pumpkin cheesecakes for Thanksgiving & Christmas! - 10/23/2008   12:34:22 PM
  • 56
    also pumpkin bread is great! - 10/23/2008   12:06:23 PM
  • 55
    in pie with lots of whip cream! Sorry but it is my favorite! - 10/23/2008   12:06:03 PM
  • 54
    Great idea - 10/23/2008   11:52:18 AM
    I absolutley love these ideas. I usually take the pumpkins after holloween and can my own pumpkin for pies at Thanksgiving dinner and for breakfast muffins and breads. I never thought of stuffing them. The calories involved I can most definitely live with. Thanks for sharing. - 10/23/2008   11:47:31 AM
  • CSR2388
    When my children were growing up, I always cleaned up the pumpkins after Halloween, then cooked and froze them. My husband doesn't like pumpkin pie, but loves pumpkin bread. I used to serve pumpkin muffins for dinner (savory, not sweet), and no one in the family knew what was in them, only that they were very yellow and very good. - 10/23/2008   9:59:14 AM
  • 51
    Years ago I started a new tradition. After carving the pumpkin and scraping extra meat out, I take and steam the meat until soft. I then throw it in the blender to make a puree. I measure out the amount it would take to make a pumpkin pie, stick it in a freezable container and away it goes to the freezer until Thanksgiving adn Christmas. When the holidays come around, I am able to make my homemade pumpkin pie and try to cut back on the amount of sugar that goes into the pie. Better than using the canned pumpkin. Not much more work since I had already carved the pumpkin in the first place. - 10/23/2008   9:37:04 AM
  • 50
    Love pumpkin just about anyway you can fix it!! - 10/23/2008   9:23:43 AM
  • 49
    i had soup last night made with fresh pumpkin, olive oil & tofu! i LOVE pumpkin!! =) - 10/23/2008   8:58:52 AM
    I have always loved pumpkin anything. My birthday is in October and i have always asked for pumpkin pie instead of a cake. One year I was surprised when a friend of mine made me pumpkin cake. I love the recipes shared on the many ways pumpkin can be prepared.
    Thanks everyone for sharing. Fall and pumpkin are my favorites. - 10/23/2008   8:40:00 AM
  • 47
    Great ideas, thanks! I've always used canned. Fresh seemed too daunting. But you've inspired me to give it a try. - 10/23/2008   8:35:09 AM
  • 46
    This is GREAT to know! I LOVE fresh pumpkin and prefer it to canned. Sadly I can't buy real, whole pumpkins where I live. I'll have to try and save this page. - 10/23/2008   7:51:10 AM
  • 45
    I made a delicious soup with pureed pumpkin, chunks of sweet potatoes, cumin, those smokey dried red peppers, garlic, cumin, and vegetable stock. No added salt, only some fresh ground pepper and cayenne to taste. Kept me warm and toasty and filled up all day with no added fat and lots of fiber!
    Celia - 10/23/2008   7:45:00 AM
  • 44
    I love pumpkin. Pumpkin cookies, bars, pies, soups, muffins, bread. I would try almost any recipe with pumpkin. - 10/23/2008   6:38:18 AM
  • 43
    I Love pumkin any which way I was raise on pumkin it tast good with olive oil
    just cook it and mash it and sprinkle a little sage on with a little olive oil yum yum love it. - 10/23/2008   6:11:30 AM
  • 42
    I think I've found my long lost family on this page.....pumpkin lovers unite. I love my pumpkin all ways .....sweet, savory, pureed, chunked, baked, stewed....etc., etc., etc. The seeds are yummy. I would love to save this blog...Is there any way to do so. - 10/23/2008   4:46:12 AM
  • 41
    I cook the seeds and pumpkin after Halloween. I even use the guts for my compost. Nothing goes to waste in my house. Pumpkins are good and good for you too. - 10/23/2008   1:52:47 AM
  • 40
    I love ALL things pumpkin! Bread, muffins, lattes, seeds, pie, soup, curry... Oh, I love this time of year!! - 10/23/2008   12:57:40 AM
  • 39
    pumpkin smoothies - sounds a little weird but tastes yummy! There are DOZENS of pumpkin smoothie recipes on Spark! - 10/22/2008   11:28:53 PM
    We love pumpkin walnut oatmeal. Add a little flaxseed and oat bran along with a tiny bit of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar, you have a great start to the day.

    Pumpkin smoothies are great too! - 10/22/2008   11:20:19 PM
    I like to cut them into 1-2 inch chunks and simmer them in soy sauce and sugar. - 10/22/2008   11:12:30 PM
  • 36
    I love to bake pumpkins, puree & save in 1-2 cup servings. I recently made pumpkin muffins that were sooo good. I think it was a Spark recipe too. I make pumpkin bread, smoothies, and my mom makes pies (not a pie fan myself). I'm going to try soup next I think. Okay, now I'm hungry...LOL - 10/22/2008   10:58:18 PM
  • 35
    I like making pumpkin soup with cinnamon dumplings - 10/22/2008   9:02:20 PM
  • 34
    I have a recipe for beefy mushroom soup that uses pumpkin to thicken it. It is awesome. My BF always goes for seconds. - 10/22/2008   8:20:56 PM
  • 33
    I just love pumpkin
    pumpkin smoothie recipe
    serves 1
    it tastes like pie in a glass and each 8 oz cup serves 100% of the daily value of beta carotene, an antioxident that fights cancer.
    Whip one up:

    1/2 canned pumpkin
    1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
    1/2 cup crushed ice
    1 tbs honey
    1 tsp pumkin pie spice
    pour and drink!
    162 cal,5g pro,34g carb,2g fat,0.5 sat fat,0 mg chol,4g fiber,55mg sodium
    YUM - 10/22/2008   8:10:26 PM

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