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Pumpkins provide health benefits along with adding color to fall holiday, season

USU Extension

Pumpkins and the fruit's seeds are high in vitamin A, protein, fiber, zinc and iron as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.

According to Utah State University Extension nutrition and food science specialist Nedra Christensen, the benefits of eating pumpkin are numerous.

For example, the mono and polyunsaturated fats in pumpkins promote healthy cardiovascular systems. Vitamin A improves skin and vision, while zinc decreases the risks for osteoporosis and arthritis. Fiber decreases colon cancer risks.

One cup of mashed pumpkin contains 49 calories, 0.2 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol and 2,651 international units of vitamin A, pointed out Christensen.

One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 153 calories, 13 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol and 108 IU of vitamin A.

In addition to the health benefits, pumpkins are a versatile fruit with many options for preparation and serving, continued the USU Extension specialist.

Christensen offered Carbon County residents several carving and decorating suggestion.

• To roast pumpkin seeds, people should remove them from the pumpkin and rinse in a colander, removing pulp or string.

Place the seeds on a cookie sheet. Add two tablespoons of butter to one cup of seeds. Season to taste with soy or Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt and onion salt.

Bake the seeds at 250 degrees for one hour, turning every 15 minutes.

•For carving, people should draw designs on the pumpkin with a water-based marker, then cut the lid at an angle with a sharp, straight-edged knife.

Cutting at an angle prevents the top from falling in the pumpkin when it shrinks

People should use slow, steady saw strokes when carving.

The facial features closest to the center of the pumpkin should be carved first, working outward.

The larger features should be cut out in sections.

Carved portions can be removed by gently pushing into or out of the pumpkin.

If a section is accidentally removed, people can reattach it by using a toothpick to pin it back in place.

People should avoid digging too deep, since the pumpkin can become prone to rot.

Candy attached to toothpicks will brighten the face of carved pumpkins.

• For fall decorating, colorful flower arrangements can be placed inside pumpkin after the tops and seeds are removed.

Wild flowers of purple or yellow will complement the orange pumpkin.

Potted plants can also be placed inside the pumpkin.

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