Celebrating the Pumpkin

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When you think of October, you invariably think of pumpkin─the quintessential Halloween icon. Did you know that the word pumpkin comes from the Greek pepõn for a large melon? The pumpkin was a food staple for the Native American Indians, and a welcome discovery by the Pilgrims. The “new Americans” heartily embraced the sweet, multi-purpose pumpkin, which became a traditional Thanksgiving food, not only as a side dish and dessert, but also in soups, and even for beer.

So, how did pumpkins become linked to Halloween? It turns out that the practice of carving Jack-o’-lanterns was brought to the United States by Irish immigrants who originally carved turnips into Jack-o’-lanterns. In America, pumpkins were more plentiful and cheaper than turnips, hence the new tradition.

We now celebrate the pumpkin each October, both as a commemoration of the annual harvest and as part of Halloween. Does this humble gourd deserve such fanfare? Yes, indeed! Especially since pumpkin is good for you, inside and out.

Pumpkins are surprisingly nutrient dense─rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc and beneficial fats which may help prevent prostate ailments. And a USDA study found that diets high in fiber-rich pumpkin help curb the appetite.

If you’d like some ideas on cooking with pumpkin, how about 41 scrumptious recipes like Pumpkin Crème Caramel, Pumpkin-Praline Muffins, Pumpkin Latte Coffee Cake, Coconut-Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread, New World Chili, and Pumpkin Gingerbread? Find them here.

How can pumpkin benefit you from the outside in? With homemade skin care, of course! Pumpkin contains enzymes and antioxidants that offer results similar to gentle alpha-hydroxy action in the removal of dead cells, along with beta-carotene-rich antioxidants to nourish your skin. For 6 pumpkin body care recipes, including an exfoliating scrub, face and hair mask, visit here.

By now you see the pumpkin is no ordinary squash. So celebrate this cheerful, historic food this month─any way you like!

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