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Family Nutrition

Peter, Peter (and Paula too) Pumpkin Eater

Pumpkins are a wonderfully nutritious, tasty fall icon. Get the kids into the act and let them help you carve and cook with the big orange squash.

It’s just as much fun to eat pumpkins as it is to carve them. The inner flesh and seeds make special treats now, and cooked pumpkin freezes well to be used later in the year. 

Healthy Pumpkin Facts
Contains important nutrients
Vitamin C, Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, alpha
   and beta carotenoids, and lutein for eye health
Contains essential fatty acids
Helps support healthy kidneys, bladder and prostate
Helps lower cholesterol
Helps with digestive health
May help prevent osteoporosis

Fun Pumpkin Facts
Pumpkins are closely related to winter squash
Pumpkins are 90% water
Pumpkin seeds are often called pepitas
American Indians call them curcurbita
Pumpkins are believed to have originated in Mexico between 5000 and 7000 BC

Pick the Right Pumpkin for Cooking
Ideally, buy a “pie pumpkin” or “sweet pumpkin”
Smaller than jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, with sweeter flesh that’s less watery
Look for a pumpkin with 1 to 2 inches of stem
Heavy is best, and shape is unimportant
One pound of raw, untrimmed pumpkin makes one cup finished pumpkin puree

Prepare It
Spread newspaper over your work surface to make cleanup easier
Remove the stem with a sharp knife
Cut pumpkin in half with a sharp knife
Scrape away and discard all of the stringy mass but retain the seeds to roast later

Cook It 
Leave pumpkin in 2 halves
Rinse under cold water
Place pumpkin, cut side down on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil sprayed with cooking spray
Bake at 350°F for one hour or until fork tender
Pumpkin will have a darker, richer flavor when roasted

Boil or Steam
Cut the pumpkin into 2”-3” chunks
Rinse in cold water
Place pieces in a large pot with about a cup of water
Water does not need to cover the pumpkin pieces
Cover the pot and boil for 20 - 30 minutes
Or place on steam tray and steam 10 - 12 minutes
Pumpkin is tender enough when fork goes in easily
Drain the cooked pumpkin in a colander
Reserve the liquid to use as a soup base

Leave pumpkin in 2 halves
Place each cut side down on a microwave safe plate or tray with 1 tablespoon of water
Microwave on high for 15 minutes
If necessary continue cooking at 1-2 minute intervals until fork tender

Prepare Puree
Allow pumpkin to cool for 30 minutes
Remove the outer peel using a small sharp knife or your fingers. Discard the peel.
Puree the pumpkin flesh in a food processor, food mill, ricer, strainer or potato masher
Use Now or Freeze and Store
Measure cooled puree into one-cup portions
Place in freezer containers or zip-close plastic bags leaving ½-inch of headspace
Label, date and freeze for up to one year

Beyond Pie: Using Pumpkin Pure
Add 1/3 cup of puree to your standard 1-cup of mix recipe for pancakes
Also add chopped apple, a handful of raisins, or chopped cranberries for a seasonal treat

Add ½ cup of puree to 2 cups of oatmeal

Pumpkin Soup
Thin puree with water left over from steaming
Add spices like red pepper flakes, cinnamon, ginger and clove. Curry is also a great pumpkin soup spice
Swirl in a tablespoon of low-fat yogurt before serving for a decorative, creamy touch
Serve hot or cold

Pumpkin Pasta
Add pumpkin puree to any tomato-based sauce

Use the Seeds
Enjoy raw, dried pumpkins seeds by the handful
Mix into trail mix or sprinkle on your cereal
Caution: 3 tablespoons of raw seeds contains 190 calories

Make pumpkin seed butter
Toast seeds for 15 minutes in 350 oven
Puree until smooth
Add roasted chopped seeds to waffles, pancakes, pie or other desserts
Add baked or browned pumpkin seeds into your chili, risotto, rice or spaghetti sauce

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