Hooray—It’s Pumpkin Season!

Have you ever eaten pumpkin? I’m not talking about pumpkin pie; I’m talking about pumpkin, mashed and served with lean pot roast, or cubed and stirred into soup for a flavor and nutrient boost at lunch.

Pumpkin is as potent a veggie as you’ll find anywhere. Its deep orange color is a sure sign that it’s just crazy with carotenes, which fight both heart disease and cancer. So how do you pick the perfect pumpkin? It’s easy… Here’s your guide:

  • Check out farmer’s markets and roadside stands for the freshest selection.
  • Find a small, flat, red-orange pumpkin. It’ll be the sweetest.
  • Pass up large pumpkins, which tend to be tough and stringy–and harder to work with. The last thing you need is a wrestling match!
  • Choose one that’s unblemished, evenly shaped, and fresh-smelling.

Okay, you’ve picked the perfect pumpkin. Now how do you get it ready to eat? Follow these simple steps, and you’ll have plenty of table-ready pumpkin for quick meals at a moment’s notice:

  • Wash all the dirt off the pumpkin.
  • Place the pumpkin on a sturdy cutting board.
  • Cut the pumpkin in half, using a large, sharp knife.
  • Scoop out the seeds and set them aside to toast later (yum!).

Then use either of these methods to skin and cook:

  • Method 1. Cut your pumpkin into chunks and put the chunks on a well-greased baking sheet. Bake at 325°F for about an hour, or until the pulp is soft. Scrape the pulp from the shell, then toss it into your food processor to puree.
  • Method 2. Cut your pumpkin into chunks, peel the chunks, and place them in a saucepan. Add about ½ cup of water, cover, and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes.

Now you’re ready to enjoy your pumpkin!