If you’re like me, you’ve been walking by the large bins of pumpkins in the grocery stores for the past month, thinking to yourself “Should we carve pumpkins this year? Seems like a lot of work.” Maybe if you have kids who have grown up and moved out of the house, it feels like an outdated tradition.

If you are partaking in pumpkin carving this season, keep reading for some fun ways to use your pumpkin guts, so the leftovers don’t go to waste.

If not, here are some fun fall recipes that you can enjoy anyways, with pumpkins or another winter squash.

fall carved pumpkins

Pumpkin’s research-backed benefits

These familiar, hefty, orange fruits are so commonplace, especially at this time of year, that it can be easy to forget their value. Pumpkins, including their seeds and leaves,  are used in a variety of recipes all around the world. The pumpkin seeds and flesh are packed with nutrients and fiber. Historically, pumpkins have been used in systems of traditional medicine for urinary and digestive system support.

A 2010 review by the Cambridge University Press shone a light on some of the health-promoting components of pumpkins, including:

  • Antioxidant activity

  • Anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties

  • High protein and amino acid content (in the seeds)

  • Potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, molybdenum, and selenium (also found in the seeds)

How to Use Your Pumpkin Guts

Now that you know why you may want to include pumpkin in your diet, here are some fun ideas for how to use different parts of the plant.

  • Make a nutritious pumpkin stock – This is a great way to use up your fresh or frozen leftover pumpkin scraps! This stock can then be used in place of plain water in soups, sauces, or stews. Use the pumpkin scraps, along with any other veggie scraps and aromatics, like ginger, onion, garlic, celery, and simmer in water for up to 60 minutes, then strain. You can include some protein or bones for a pumpkin-infused chicken or beef broth.

  • Make and freeze pumpkin puree – Remove the seeds and stringly flesh, then roast, peel and blend your pumpkin for a versatile puree.  Freezing your homemade pumpkin puree in ice cube trays makes it easy to thaw and use the amount that you want at a later time.

  • Use it in your beauty routine – Mix some of your homemade pumpkin puree with sugar and the oil of your choice for a homemade exfoliating body scrub. Stir in some essential oils for added aromatherapy, and store the mixture in the fridge between uses. Enjoy the exfoliating benefits along with extra nourishment for your skin.

  • Soak and roast your pumpkin seeds – Soaking your pumpkin seeds before roasting will make them easier on your digestive system and help to neutralize potentially harmful phytic acid. Once you’ve separated your seeds from the rest of the pumpkin flesh, rinse them and put them in a jar or bowl. Add water (with 1/2 tbsp of salt added for every 2 cups). Soak overnight or for at least 6 hours. Strain and spread out on baking sheets to air dry for a few hours. Then toss with oil and desired seasonings, and dehydrate at a low temperature (150F for at least 12 hours) or roast at 350F for 30 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally.

Let us know if you try any of these out, or if you have other creative ways of using your pumpkin leftovers. We’d love to hear from you!

Written By: Chinonso Miniely

Sources: Yadav, M., Jain, S., Tomar, R., Prasad, G., & Yadav, H. (2010). Medicinal and biological potential of pumpkin: An updated review. Nutrition Research Reviews, 23(2), 184-190. doi:10.1017/S0954422410000107