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Forget About Jack O’Lanterns—Check Out These 4 Creative Uses for Pumpkin

Autumn is in full swing, and stores are stocking up on fresh squash, gourds, and, of course, pumpkins. While this Halloween staple is best known as the perfect base for a spooky carving or key component in fall sweets, it’s also a versatile ingredient in DIY projects, easy weekday dinners, and even soothing skincare solutions.

Don’t make the mistake of overlooking pumpkin seeds; they can be a tasty treat, flavorful mid-afternoon snack, or crunchy addition to salads.

But don’t take our word for it! Read on for a few inspiring ways to get creative with one of fall’s most bountiful harvests.

1. Trick your kids with this delicious (and nutritious!) snack

Did you know that those tiny pumpkin seeds pack quite a nutritional punch? Full of protein and fiber, beneficial nutrients like magnesium and zinc, and antioxidants, pumpkin seeds can help strengthen your immune system and are heart-healthy. While parents everywhere take the time to salvage seeds from cast-aside pumpkin guts after jack o’lantern carving, this often semi-burnt, overly salty snack is usually ignored in favor of other Halloween delicacies.

But don’t make the mistake of overlooking the potential pumpkin seeds have as a tasty treat, flavorful mid-afternoon snack, or crunchy addition to a salad. If you’ve given up on homemade pumpkin seeds after multiple failed attempts or because your kids turn up their nose every year, a few small tweaks to your baking process and a little spicing inspiration may be all you need. Here are a few tips from the pros:

• Rinse your seeds well. This can be a challenge, but if you consistently end up with a charred mess, pumpkin residue may be the culprit. Soak your pumpkin seeds in warm water and a dash of salt for at least seven hours, followed by draining and drying for a few additional hours. This not only gets rid of extra pumpkin gunk, it also makes them easier to digest and improves your ability to absorb all their wonderful vitamins.

• Rinse your seeds well. This can be a challenge, but if you consistently end up with a charred mess, pumpkin residue may be the culprit. Soak your pumpkin seeds in warm water and a dash of salt for at least seven hours, followed by draining and drying for a few additional hours. This not only gets rid of extra pumpkin gunk, it also makes them easier to digest and improves your ability to absorb all their wonderful vitamins.

• If you prefer your pumpkin seeds peeled, here’s a method for peeling a bunch at once. (The peels are safe to eat, but many people prefer to eat the more tender interior on its own.)

• Don’t be afraid of seasoning. Whether you go salty or sweet, it doesn’t take much effort to ensure you have a flavorful end result. Toss your seeds in oil (hint: olive oil is great for savory, while coconut oil or vegetable oil work well for sweeter flavor profiles) and the spices of your choosing. Pumpkin seeds will take quite a bit of seasoning, so don’t be too conservative with your quantities. Give this cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds recipe a try, or get creative with garlic parmesan pumpkin seeds.

• Some like it hot, but pumpkin seeds don’t! For the perfect roast, you’ll want to keep your oven no higher than 300° F and bake them for around 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on them—they have a habit of going from perfect to overdone in a matter of minutes.

• Give them lots of attention. To prevent burning and guarantee an even roast every time, you’ll want to stir and toss your seeds about every 10 minutes or so. To avoid too much temperature fluctuation in your oven, pull out the entire pan, shut the oven door, and stir on the stove top before returning to the oven.

2. Treat your feathered friends

Bird watching is one of life’s simplest pleasures—and cool weather means your backyard birds will be in the market for lots of tasty treats. So, enlist the help of your kids, pick up a small pumpkin, and make this easy DIY pumpkin bird feeder.

Not only is this a great, inexpensive way to bring all the birds to the yard with an abundance of bird seed, the flesh of the pumpkin is also a tasty and healthy treat. All you need is a pumpkin, quality knife, some wooden dowels, and a bit of twine.

3. Get creative with your recipes

Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin tarts. The list goes on and on, and by the end of the season, most of us are pretty tired of these common fall sweets. Assuming this versatile squash is only appropriate for dessert is doing it a disservice—some of our favorite savory recipes feature pumpkin as the star!

The natural sweetness of pumpkin plays well with salty or spicy flavors, while the consistency lends itself perfectly to soups, fillings, and sauces. As an added bonus, pumpkin is surprisingly easy to work with. You can roast it, saute it, grill it, or even throw it in the crock pot. Here are a few recipes to add to your menu:

Kaddu ki Sabzi will warm you up with a variety of traditional Indian flavors.

Try your hand at making pumpkin ricotta gnocchi.

Whip up some pumpkin and cauliflower casserole for Thanksgiving for a unique side.

This hearty pumpkin chowder is filling, delicious, and sure to be a hit.

Serve these savory pumpkin pancakes at your next brunch.

4. Give your skin a little TLC

The same enzymes and nutrients that make pumpkin such a healthy ingredient are also fantastic for your skin. In our Hagerstown medspa, Theresa’s famous Pumpkin Collagen Boosting Facial is a seasonal favorite for its ability to clear blemishes, soften skin, and give your face an overall refreshed, glowing appearance.

The customized pumpkin enzyme peel facial treatment boasts a number of vitamins and antioxidants to stimulate collagen production, helping to minimize signs of aging and improve skin health. The addition of a spice blend and aromatherapy makes it the perfect way to relax and unwind after a busy day of fall activities.

Happy fall from your friends at Plastic Surgery Services

We hope these ideas inspire you to find fun, new ways to enjoy the season. Grab a pumpkin, give a few of these activities a try, and then contact us to book your facial!