There’s more to pumpkins than meets the carved-out eye | SierraSun.com

There’s more to pumpkins than meets the carved-out eye

Sheri Alzeerah
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. – Pumpkins just can’t catch a break. These forgotten fruits shine once a year, gutted and mangled into ghastly creatures then tossed into the dumpster as soon as their spookiness spoils.

Though the life of a pumpkin is often confined to a front porch or windowsill, this squash’s many benefits shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, one cup of mashed pumpkin alone contains 245 percent of your Vitamin A daily value, not to mention an abundance of Vitamin C and potassium.

Sure, there’s pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and even pumpkin pancakes. But those are only the beginning. Before you put another nutrient goldmine to waste this Halloween, make the most of your pumpkin the economical way.

Beautify

As lumpy and wrinkled pumpkins may appear, don’t judge a pumpkin by its shell. As a matter of fact, this pleasantly plump produce miraculously works wonders for the skin. Whip up some homemade, vitamin-rich pumpkin facial mask or add some honey and voila! – a sweet and refreshing pumpkin exfoliator. 

Impress the guests

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The only thing worse than the stress of cooking for a dinner party is the added stress of doing dishes after a dinner party. Get rid of that anxiety by swapping ceramic bowls for hollowed-out, baked pumpkin shells. Pumpkins are perfect for serving dips and soups and make any occasion an autumn-themed celebration.

Put a little butter on it

Fruit butters are no simple spread – they’re a way of life. Add some pizzazz to your biscuits, rolls and pancakes with the gift of homemade pumpkin butter. All it takes to make is pumpkin puree, brown sugar, water and your favorite complementary spices. Believe me. You won’t want to pass this butter.

Construct a pumpkin planter

Au revoir, vases. Bonjour, pumpkin shells! And in another prime example of pumpkin shells being awesome, why not grow a plant within a plant? With its array of nutrients, pumpkin planters are a natural source of fertilizer and will compost on their own. Give your annuals a new home to sink their roots into this season, and add another spectacle of Mother Nature’s beauty to your home garden.

Go for the guts

They’re stringy. They’re slimy. They’re sticky. But most of all, they’re delicious. Separate the seeds from the strings (set the seeds aside for an easy and tasty snack), and boil the guts down to a stock for about 30 minutes. This flavorful pumpkin stock can be frozen and used in all sorts of soups and casseroles for an added layer of autumn yum.

All I am saying is give pumpkins (and peace) a chance.

– Sheri Alzeerah is a journalist and freelance writer for meal planning site www.foodonthetable.com.