Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater may not have been the best husband, but as a pumpkin eater, he was quite smart.
Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are high in vitamin A, protein, fiber, zinc, iron and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Health benefits of eating pumpkin include: healthy cardiovascular system (mono and polyunsaturated fats), healthy skin (vitamin A), healthy vision (vitamin A), decreased osteoporosis (zinc), decreased arthritis (less lipid peroxidation), decreased prostate enlargement (helps prevent conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone) and decreased colon cancer (fiber).
One cup of mashed pumpkin contains 49 calories, 0.2 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol and 2,651 International Units of Vitamin A. One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 153 calories, 13 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol and 108 IU of
Vitamin A.
In addition to the health benefits, pumpkins, from the gourd or Cucurbitaceae family, are a versatile fruit with many options for preparation and serving. Consider the following carving tips, decorating suggestions and recipes for this fall favorite.
 To roast pumpkin seeds, remove them from the pumpkin and rinse in a colander, pulling pulp or strings from the seeds. Place seeds on a cookie sheet. Add butter (2 tablespoons to 1 cup of seeds) and soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt and onion salt to taste. Bake at 250 F for one hour, turning every 15 minutes.
• For carving, draw your design on the pumpkin with a water-based marker. Then cut the lid at an angle with a sharp, straight-edged knife. (Cutting at an angle prevents the top from falling in the pumpkin when it shrinks.) Remove seeds and pulp. Use slow, steady saw strokes when carving, and carve the facial features closest to the center first, working outward. Cut out the larger features in sections. Remove carved portions by gently pushing them into or out of the pumpkin. If a section is accidentally removed, reattach it by using a toothpick to pin it back in place. Avoid digging too deep, since the pumpkin can become prone to rot. Use candy attached to toothpicks to brighten up the face (candy corn can be used for teeth and gum drops for the iris of the eye).
• For fall decorating, colorful flower arrangements can be placed in the pumpkin. Remove the top of the pumpkin and discard. Remove seeds and roast as described above. Wild flowers of purple, yellow or orange will complement the orange pumpkin. Potted plants can also be placed inside the pumpkin.
•  For cooking with pumpkin, try these recipes:
Chocolate Pumpkin Cake
In a chocolate cake mix recipe, replace water and half the oil with pumpkin. Frost with orange-colored icing.
Holiday Orange Pumpkin Loaf
2 cups cooked pumpkin
1 cup orange juice
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts, optional
1 cup raisins, optional
Beat together pumpkin, orange juice, butter, sugar and eggs. Stir in dry ingredients and blend well. Pour into 3 greased loaf pans and bake 1 hour at 350F.
Fresh Pumpkin Soup
8 cups chopped fresh pumpkin
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 small tart apples, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
2 garlic cloves, minced
one-half teaspoon salt
In a 5-quart slow cooker, combine all ingredients and cook for 8 hours. Can be served chunky, or cooled slightly, blended and reheated.
For further information on pumpkins, visit the Pumpkin Grower’s Web site at

By: Nedra Christensen - Oct. 9, 2008