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Pumpkin-A Fall Favorite for More than Decorating

Pumpkins are great, not only as decorations, but they are a nutritional powerhouse.


Pumpkins can be spotted everywhere, propped up with scarecrows, signs, mums, and bales of straw. But what are you to do with those pumpkins once Halloween is over?

Pumpkins are great, not only as decorations, but to eat.

Pumpkins are a nutritional powerhouse and can actually be considered a “health food.”

They are low in calories, fat, and sodium, yet high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamins A, B, C, potassium, protein, and iron. As an added benefit, the pumpkin seeds, which provide protein and iron, make a great snack or lunch box item when roasted.

Orange is powerful!

It’s the bright orange color that is dead giveaway that it is loaded with vitamin A which is essential for good vision, healthy skin, and helping ensure a strong immune system. A few more great healthy attributes of pumpkins:

  • Pumpkins contain an important antioxidant - beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. Research has shown that foods rich in beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and heart disease, while offering protection against other diseases, and some degenerative aspects of aging.
  • The Vitamin C found in pumpkin helps to fight against infections. Vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient which needs to be replenished daily in our body. 
  • Pumpkin has high fiber content and the fiber helps with proper digestion and elimination. Many Americans have inadequate amounts of fiber in their diets.

Is it a fruit or vegetable?

Pumpkins are actually a fruit, but many people use it as a vegetable. They are a member of the gourd family, which includes squash, cucumbers, gherkins, and melons.  They can be substituted for winter squash or sweet potato, both high in vitamin A, in many recipes and are used to make soups, pies and breads.

Selecting the right pumpkin

When searching for your pumpkin, select one that is small in size. Small, immature pumpkins provide the most flavorful dishes. Smaller pumpkins are tender and less stringy than the larger variety.

Your pumpkin should have a stem of 1 to 2 inches. If the stem is cut too low, the pumpkin will decay quickly or may be decaying at the time of purchase. Avoid those with blemishes and soft spots as well.

To decide what size of pumpkin you should purchase to make a pie later, you will need one pound of raw, untrimmed pumpkin for one cup of finished pumpkin puree. In other words, an eight pound pumpkin will yield eight cups of puree.

Pumpkin is a fall favorite for more than just decorating. Experiment with different recipes containing pumpkin. Click here for a free copy of the Dollar Stretcher newsletter, Making Your  Halloween SPOOKTACULAR, contact the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture in the Miller County Courthouse, call 870-779-3609, or e-mail

I have shared this recipe for Pumpkin Praline Cake before; it is from my mother and worth sharing again. Anyone who tastes it will think it took hours to prepare, but is easy with the use of a cake mix. 

Pumpkin Praline Cake

Pumpkin Praline Cake made in bundt pan on platter
Anyone who tastes this pumpkin praline cake thinks it took hours to prepare, but it is easy to make using a cake mix
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 can (16 ounces) pumpkin or 2 cups fresh cooked pumpkin, mashed
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 eggs


  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 stick margarine or butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  1. Combine in mixing bowl first eight ingredients in order given.
  2. Add one egg at a time, beating a full minute between each addition.
  3. Pour one fourth of the batter into a large greased tube or Bundt pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. 
  4. In small bowl, combine nuts, margarine and sugar; mix well.
  5. Place on top of batter in pan; carefully pour remaining batter over top of nut mixture.
  6. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. 
  7. Remove from pan and place on cooling rack to cool.


By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609

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