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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YMWONG22 5/11/2017
Great article and good ideas. Report
I just saw P. Allen Smith bake small pumpkins whole. He said to pierce the sides with a big meat fork. He also said that the smaller pumpkins are best for pie, sweeter than the big ones. Report
Great ideas, I have 18 pumpkins that I grew, I guess I will be printing some recipes Report
great article! I have seen stews listing pumpkin as an ingredient and couldn't figure out what kind of pumpkin was a "cooking pumpkin". Just so happens they are selling small cantelope-sized beautiful pumpkins 2/$4 at the local grocery. Have made curried pumpkin soup... delicious! Also recently saw HSN advertise a juicer and tossed in chunks of unpeeled pumpkin in a smoothy.What a nice fall idea! Report
I know.... but Canned Pumpkin (100% pumpkin not the pie mix) is so convenient. I've been having Pumpkin Pie Smoothies in the morning (1/2 c Pumpkin, Almond Milk, protein powder, touch of vanilla extract and a good amount of nutmeg and cinnamon) Report
There is nothing about pumpkin that I like! I can't stand carving them because the goo inside is so gross! Love squash though. Report
I've never cooked pumpkins before, doesn't sound too hard. I like the seeds tho. Report
i love pumpkin and i never try the seed i think i will try some differance receipts Report
I LOVE Pumpkin!!! I live in Germany and we have so many types of pumpkin here it's amazing! I use it in stir fry, and just tossed with a little olive oil and sauté it....then sprinkle with chili powder or curry powder. I make a really good Kürbis(Pumpkin in German) Creme Soupe!!! with Curry and Garlic, delicious. I work long hours so when I want pumpkin, I wash the outside (the skins are edible) and take the top off...put it in the oven while I'm getting ready for work then turn the oven off on my way out the door. When I get home in the evening, the pumpkin is ready for slicing or chopping. So easy! No, I don't clean out the center before I put it in the oven...I just don't have the time. Orange Knirps are my favorite for eating! Report
We like to mix pumpkin puree with pumpkin spice, coolwhip, and dry fat free, sugar free instant butterscotch pudding. Yum. Report
A pumpkin plant spontaneously grew in by backyard last year, and it was huge! I reaped 4 large pumpkins off of it. I did some research online and found out they were Fairytale or Cinderella pumpkins because they have a flat top and bottom and are deeply scalloped lobes. They turned a beautiful color : a rusty orange brown, almost chestnut colored. I don't believe in wasting food, so I am on your bandwagon on saving the pumpkins! We have eaten pumpkin at dinnertime the past two days with butter and brown sugar. We have toasted and eaten the seeds. Except for the one recently cut open because the seeds had started sprouting, and looked browner that usual. I cook and puree them and store them in the freezer as well, and later I make bread, and pies. I have some in the fridge right now and plan to make pancakes with cinnamon. MMM.. Report
I use pumpkins like any other squash. I keep some on hand to use in soups, casseroles, etc. Last fall a friend of our kids was surprised when I served a vegetable soup with pumpkin. He had never eaten pumpkin before. Report
I snagged a huge 25 lb pumpkin for $1 and baked it and froze it. It is making a fine addition to my weekly kettle of soup! Also helps stretch the budget. I make a large kettle and eat it all weekend. It is really nice to have something ready to eat when I get hungry and with all the veggies I put in it it's quite healthy too. I've increased the recipe so now I have soup during the week too. Report
I'm not a big fan of Pumpkin. I'll eat pie but with lots of whip cream. I do like pumpkin bread. Report
I always did this when my kids were young (cooked the pumpkin) We liked pumpkin muffins and pies. Sometimes we would just bake the pumpkin in chunks with brown sugar, butter and pumpkin pie spice and serve it to the kids for snack. They loved it and did not even realize they were getting veggies for snack. Report
I have a huge homegrown pumpkin someone gave me. They offered it for carving but I said- I will just eat it. I like baking with pumpkin- like pumpkin muffins- mmm. But its huge (I just looked at it again) and its been sitting here waiting for me to find time to cut it and bake it. Glad to see directions here. I know its a big one- but we will see how it tastes- it was free so no big loss!

Love in Christ!
Mrs. K Report
We usually eat a pumpkin every year from homemade but this year they were out of pumpkins. They got taken as soon as they came out. We'll have to stick with squash and canned pumpkin. We like it without the crust. Just eat it plain with spices. Report
I love pumpkins and squash! Just FYI, you CAN roast squash seeds just like pumpkins seeds. So good... :) Report
I baked two pumpkins this fall & put packages in the freezer to enjoy this Winter. YUM! Report
Pumpkins are not all that different from squash. It just depends on what spices you use. I like pumpkin butter on my toast. Yum!
Erin Report
Not a big fan of pumpkin. Every now and then I'll try another recipe to see if my opinion changes. Hasn't yet. Report
I love pumpkin everything!!! Pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin mousse....... I am getting hungry just thinking about it! I try to stick with homemade pumpkin soup from my own recipe, though, and avoid the rich desserts! I am going to try to make a crustless pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, to cut out most of the fat and calories. Report
My mom loves to make pumpkin donuts (so good, SO deep fried) as well as pumpkin bread. My sister loves to use it in pumpkin curry soup.
I use my pumpkin by adding it to stews and BAKED pumpkin donuts as well as smoothies (yum!) Report
I remember many years ago my parents growing pumpkins (several varieites). We give some away, and the rest Mom carved up and cooked, and then placed the cooked pumpkin in the freezer. We had pumpkin pie year round, which is probably why I'm a member of Sparkpeople now! Report
I wish I had your willpower
good luck to you
Love from Australia,, Report
Except that (at least around here) there are carving pumpkins that are bred for size and don't taste very good, and other types meant to be eaten. I see them referred to as "candy pumpkins" or "sweet" pumpkins at the local market, and that's more like what the store-bought pumpkin puree is from. I cooked a carved pumpkin last year and it was very bitter. Report
For those with dogs, a few spoonfuls of pumpkin helps regulate their digestive systems too. Report
Stepfanie - - another marvelous blog from you!!!

Thank you so much for sharing this little-known info. with all of us.
We planted some pumpkins this year and I was wondering what would we do with all of them? Sure didn't want to just carve & waste so much good food but I never knew pumpkins were so versatile!

Thank You - - Thank You - - Thank You!!

Margrit Report
I love the seeds; I like pumpkin soup and mashed pumpkin! Report
Thanks for the great ideas. I love pumpkins!!! Report
I use butternut squash interchangeably for pumpkin in anything. I would rather cook up a butternut squash than a pumpkin for some reason. I wonder if the nutrition is the same and if you can eat the seeds of a butternut squash. Report
I love pumpkins. Can't get enough of them. Report
My hubby has a recipe for a lovely pumpkin soup. I think it's basically pureed pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices, and grilled chicken.

We made a huge batch and froze the leftovers. Yum! Report
I love pumpkins, one of the best vegetables around. Report
Thank You For this Article! I work for an Organic Farm and in the fall we have pumpkins coming out of our ears! I learned how to puree last year and WOW! It's easy once you know how and just stop thinking of pumpkins as Jack-O-Lanterns. Also was so excited about the Health Benefits! One of my jobs at the farm is to give tastings and samples of our produce so a BIG THANKS for getting the word out on these wonderful veggies! Report
We travel every year & pumpkin is used as a vegetable allot in the caribbean. They cook it like squash & it's a great side dish. I tend to agree that they're allot of work & I use canned pumpkin for soups as well as desserts but I'm going to try using fresh ones more. Report
What a great idea to use the smaller pumpkins as bowls! I would never have thought of that. Report
Someone's probably already said this, but just in case, you really don't want to eat pumpkins sold for display. There are pumpkins that are intended for eating & eating a pumpkin that's been outside on display is usually a bad idea. They will be getting moldy out there, have been wet on by passing neighborhood dogs, and it just isn't a great idea to "use these" for eating. Instead, put it into the compost pile. Report
When my kids were growing up - we had a harvest dinner with the kids making something out of pumpkin. We have made pies, cookies, muffins, and a cake one year. I think everyone's favorite is the pie. Report
thank you Report
I only tried pumpkin once in my life. About 20 years ago my best friend and I were doing baking for the holidays. My friend had a pumpkin to cook, so we decided to make pumpkin bread loves to give away as presents. Up until this time I have never had pumpkin again. It wasn't bad tasting just a lot of work to make. Report
Wow. what a revelation! After reading how easy it is to prepare the pumpkin meat, and to also roast the seeds...I was interested in trying something new - but after reading the Nutritional value of all things Pumpkin...!!! I am astounded, at what nutrients I've been missing out on - amazingly nutritious stuff.
I'm going to try Both. Thanks so much! Report
I also roast pumpkin seeds Report
I like pumkin in pies, muffins, and bread. Report
Yes, I eat the seeds and pie. Report
I like P. Pie. Think I'll make a couple tomorrow. Report
I love pumpkins!!! Pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread...ummmm good!!! Report
Every couple of years hubby and I get a hugh pumpkin and and do all the cutting and such to freeze the pumpkin. We then make all kinds of things with the pumpkin. The ladies where he works have come to expect some pumpkin bread near Thanksgiving from he, he does the baking, even makes a sugar free version for me and one of the ladies in his office. We have done this since we first started dating, over 37 yrs ago. Report
How funny...I was just sitting here drinking a smoothy like KatKrazy1's recipe from, thinking I needed to go to SparkRecipes and find some more pumpkin recipes. Talk about timely! Report
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