Many uses for pumpkins

Photo Credit:  Rich Bowen
Photo Credit: Rich Bowen

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Bates County, University of Missouri Extension

The most popular use of pumpkins this time of year is for jack-o-lanterns and fall decorations. But pumpkin is healthy and versatile, so we could be preparing and eating it in a variety of ways as well. Pumpkin provides fiber, vitamins A and C, potassium and protein.

Here are some guidelines when choosing a pumpkin for cooking:

  • Choose a small pumpkin that weighs between two and six pounds.
  • “Pie pumpkin” or “sweet pumpkin” is a good choice, but the jack-o-lantern variety also works just fine for eating.
  • Look for a pumpkin that has one or two inches of stem left. Pumpkins with shorter stems decay more quickly.
  • Choose a pumpkin that has a rich orange color with skin that cannot be easily broken or scratched by your fingernail.
  • For every pound of whole pumpkin, you can expect to get one cup of pumpkin puree.

If you want your pumpkin to have multiple uses, you can first paint a funny face on it for a decoration using non-toxic paints. After the holiday, you can wash and cook it.

To use the pumpkin for maximum benefit, don’t throw out the seeds — they can be roasted and eaten.

For instructions on roasting the seeds and preparing the pumpkin to make puree, view the full version of this article at


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