With Halloween right around the corner, you are probably getting ready to carve pumpkins with your family and/or friends. If you were thinking about skipping out on the carving and getting a jack-o-lantern that you plug in the wall instead, think again. Not only do you get to have fun while carving pumpkins, you can also get some nutritional benefits from the scraps.

Here is the quick nutrition run down on pumpkins: they contain the antioxidant beta-carotene, they are packed with fiber (about 20% of your DRI), they are rich in potassium and vitamin C, and the seeds contain many essential minerals you need. Basically, eating pumpkins can keep your skin healthy, boost your immune system, help lower your blood pressure, increase your mood, and keep you regular. So why wouldn’t you eat them?

It is a common practice to roast the pumpkin seeds after you carve the pumpkin, but you get a LOT of seeds. So try to mix it up! Make a few different batches with different flavors. Go classic with some salt and pepper, naked with just enough oil so they do not stick to the pan, spicy with cayenne pepper, sweet with cinnamon and nutmeg, savory with lemon and thyme, tangy with ginger and orange, or cheesy with grated parmesan. Pumpkin seeds are a blank slate, and there are so many of them, you can experiment with whatever flavor you want! Just make sure to dry out the seeds first!

Now comes the uncommon part. Save all the scraps from the pumpkins (within reason) for your own culinary benefit. We love to drink pumpkin spice lattes and smell pumpkin spice air fresheners, so why not eat it too? Pumpkin freezes beautifully, so you can even save some scraps for later if you have too much. Here are some alkaline ways to incorporate pumpkin into your meals.

Pumpkin puree: cover the scraps of pumpkin in tin foil, and bake at 325 in the oven with the foil side up. Scoop the pumpkin meat off the skin and run it through the blender. This is a great base for a creamy soup without the need for cream! You can also make pumpkin pancakes, ravioli, or even put it in your smoothie.

Roasted pumpkin: cut the scraps of pumpkin into small chunks, removing the skin. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven on 375 until slightly brown. Roasted pumpkin is great for a fall salad (topped with your roasted seeds), tossed on a homemade pizza, or put in stew or chili.

Grilled pumpkin: leaving the skin on, cut the pumpkin into long, thin pieces. Coat with a little olive oil and throw them on the grill. You can make your own light garlic herb sauce with vinegar to pour over the wedges for a different flavor. This would make a great side dish and would also pair well with other vegetables such as onions, shallots, greens, or mushrooms.

Pumpkin butter: replace your everyday condiments with homemade pumpkin butter! Pumpkin is already sweet and slightly buttery, so there is no need to add a ton of additional butter and sugar. Spread it on toast, sandwiches, or smear it on your chicken breasts for a little something extra!

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