If you throw away your pumpkin after Halloween, you’re throwing out a very healthy all American vegetable – chockfull of vitamins.

According to experts, fresh pumpkin is is an excellent source of natural fiber, plus beta-carotene (vitamin A and vitamin C), as well as small amounts of magnesium, zinc, folate, and potassium. Pumpkins are 94% water, so they are pretty low in calories.

What to do with your pumpkin:

If you don’t carve it, decorate it with paints or markers. That way the inside stays nice and fresh once Halloween is over.

The part that’s good for eating is the flesh (the peach-colored part of the inside of the pumpkin) between the orange rind and the gooey seeds.

Here’s how to prepare pumpkin for cooking:

Don’t feel like baking with pumpkin? Still – don’t throw away the pumpkin – even if you’ve carved it. Cut it in half and place it under a bush or tree at the edge of your property. Deer and raccoons love it!Of course, you can also use pumpkin seeds in all kinds of ways. Here are some ideas:

  • Separate the seeds from the connective tissue and allow seeds to air dry outside in the sun for several days.
  • Keep several for next spring’s veggie garden. But make sure they are very dry or they will mold over the winter. Put them in a small Ziploc bag between the folds of a paper towel.
  • Use the rest to feed the birds, adding it to your bird feeders a little at a time.
  • Toast them! Take nearly dry seeds in a bowl, stirring in salt and pepper, plus additives of your choice such as Worcestershire sauce, or chili pepper, or garlic or chives. Then spread the seeds on a lightly oiled cookie sheet, baking at 375 for about 45 minutes. They come out crispy and crunchy and are super easy to make with the kids.
  • Mix toasted pumpkin seeds with popped popcorn next time you watch a movie. Yum!

Fall is all about baking, toasting and eating yummy harvest foods.

Have fun making the most of your pumpkins, from decorating to toasting… to delicious pumpkin pie.