Pumpkin varieties come in many shapes, sizes and colors – from orange to white or even blue! Some varieties are best for carving, while others are well-suited for baking. Full of antioxidants and vitamins A and C, pumpkins are a healthy choice and can be used as more than pie filling or a Halloween decoration. Baking helps retain the most nutrients. The flesh of a baked pumpkin is delicious sweetened with some butter and cinnamon, or served as a savory side dish spiced up with crumbled bacon and herbs. Pumpkin is popular incorporated into other dishes, from pumpkin bread to pumpkin soup. Roasted seeds are delightful as a snack or sprinkled on salads.
Baking a Whole Pumpkin
Cut into the pumpkin with a knife in at least six places to allow for steam release. Place the whole pumpkin in a baking pan in the oven. Add ½-inch of water to the pan. Bake at 350 degrees F until the pumpkin is soft enough to depress the shell with your finger (be careful, it’s hot). Let cool, remove seeds and scrape out soft flesh or quarter and slice away flesh. Consider preserving any extra pumpkin by preparing a purée and freezing it in the portions required for your favorite recipes.
As the weather cools and the leaves begin to turn brilliant colors, Mother Nature announces the arrival of fall. In an ode to the changing season, many find joy in creating a harvest vignette in the yard or on the porch. The basic set-up might include a couple hay bales, a brightly colored chrysanthemum, a bundle of dried cornstalks and a pumpkin or two. Other additions might include a scarecrow, a horn of plenty, a variety of colorful gourds or perhaps an antique farm implement.
Pumpkin carving has become an artistic endeavor with specialized tools and competitions promoting creativity. Remember that the pumpkin shell is quite hard to penetrate, so always supervise children who are working on a jack-o-lantern. An alternative to carving is using the pumpkin as a seasonal canvas for a scary face, a favorite scene or even the family monogram for a more distinguished look.
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Make it a Healthy Halloween
Make sure your children eat a healthy meal before trick-or-treating to reduce the urge to overindulge on candy. Fill their sweet tooth with fall favorites such as apples, grapes and nuts.
Consider “treating” with healthy food treats (snack packets of dried fruit, trail mix, fig cookies, raisins or yogurt-covered raisins) or non-food treats (fake teeth or other Halloween accessories, temporary tattoos, bubbles or pocket-sized games).
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