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Fall for Pumpkin
Fall for Pumpkin
Healthy Eating! Healthy Life!

When it comes to nutrients, pumpkin contains more fiber than kale and is full of iron, potassium, and heart-healthy magnesium. Pumpkin is a rich source of vitamin A, which is key for healthy vision, proper cell growth, and a strong immune system.  This vitamin A includes beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that may help protect against cancer, fight inflammation, and improve skin appearance. 

The pumpkins you carve into jack-o-lanterns are not the same type as the ones you eat.  The smaller pumpkins, usually called pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins, are the ones you want for eating.  You can buy these small pumpkins and make your own puree, or you can buy canned pumpkin; just be sure you don’t buy pumpkin pie filling by mistake, because it is already sweetened and flavored with spices! 

To make your own pumpkin puree, simply cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the insides, saving the seeds to roast later. Then you can roast the pumpkin at 375 degrees, cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil for about an hour.  Let it cool, then scrape it out and mash it with a potato masher.

You can use pureed pumpkin in soups, breads, and pies, or as a delicious vegetable side dish.  Try adding savory herbs like sage and curry to balance the sweetness.  If you saved the seeds when you cleaned your pumpkin, here is an easy way to roast them for a delicious snack loaded with magnesium, protein, zinc, and phytosterols, which are powerful antioxidants.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Remove any stringy matter stuck to the seeds.
  3. Toss seeds in a bowl with olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  4. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  5. Roast for about 45 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.


Kirsten Romero
Kirsten Romero
Kirsten Romero, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian with the wellness program at Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia.
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