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From skin to seeds: the healthy benefits of pumpkin

October 12, 2012

Here in Florida, it has yet to feel like fall. With the temperatures still high and humidity still lingering, kids are more likely to be breaking a sweat, than breaking in their festive fall sweaters. So how do we convince ourselves that fall has arrived, amidst the heat? With all things pumpkin, of course! Whether it be a pumpkin-inspired meal, or a much anticipated trip to the local pumpkin patch, our families can enjoy a little taste of fall too.

Pumpkins may be pretty to look at, or fun to carve, but they are also yummy to eat and are filled with lots of good-for-you nutrients! Let’s take a look at what pumpkins have to offer in the nutrition department, from skin to seeds:

The Flesh

The flesh of a pumpkin is a great way to get your fill of nutrients, with few calories. Pumpkins are orange, which means they are a good source of the antioxidant beta-carotene that is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A helps to promote a healthy immune system, especially important during cold and flu season, and aids in maintaining good eye health.

Pumpkin flesh is also high in dietary fiber, which is great for kids’ digestive health and helps keep things movin’! Did you know that just a ½ cup of pumpkin contains 4 grams of fiber? Check out these kid-friendly pumpkin recipes from our pumpkin-inspired Pinterest board:

The Skin

Did you know you can eat the pumpkin rind too? Give it a try by making pumpkin chips! Everyone loves chips, especially kids, and homemade vegetable chips can be a healthier alternative to those found in the grocery store. For directions on how to make pumpkin chips, visit here.

The Seeds

The seeds are the superstar component of the pumpkin. Want to know a fun fact? A ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds (or a small handful) contains 8 grams of protein, which is equivalent to as much protein in a cup of milk! The seeds also contain high levels of manganese, important for the breakdown of proteins and the production of energy in the body, and zinc, needed for the growth and development of your child’s bones and muscles.

And what better way to eat pumpkin seeds than by roasting them! Check out this easy recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds that is perfect for getting the kids involved.

Whether you live up north where you can feel the crisp, fall air, or down south where it still feels like summer, nothing kicks-off the fall season better than a pumpkin pickin’. Get the most bang for your buck (and health) by using the whole pumpkin.

For more pumpkin-inspired recipes, visit our “Pumpkin Goodies” Pinterest board here.

What are some of your kid’s favorite fall activities? What are some pumpkin treats that your family enjoys?