We tend to only think of bright orange pumpkins when Halloween rolls around, but this nutritionally-packed winter squash shouldn’t be overlooked during the rest of the year. Pumpkin meat is packed with carotenoids — it’s what gives them their orange color and works to fight against free radicals in your body, helping to prevent wrinkles, heart disease, and cancer. Pumpkins also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health. And last but not least, pumpkins are chock full of iron, potassium (electrolytes), zinc, and fiber. This all adds up to an overlooked squash that is antioxidant-rich, promotes a healthy intestinal track, and helps boost energy levels.

Most days I find myself too impatient or short on time to carve up a whole pumpkin, so canned pumpkin has become my new best friend. Unlike many canned vegetables, canned pumpkin still retains almost as much nutrients as the fresh flesh. And I’ve found it adds great fall flavor to lots of things. I’ve been known add a couple of large dollops to my morning yogurt, combining it well and topping with a touch of maple syrup, chopped pecans, and a sprinkle of cinnamon (mmmm! pumpkin pie yogurt!). You can blend it into smoothies, mix some into creamy soups, or add it to pancake batter for delicious pumpkin hot cakes. Go beyond the traditional pumpkin pie & jack-o-lanterns and find creative ways to carve this super healthy veggie into your meals!

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