Jack O’Laterns, without a doubt, are a Halloween must have, but we hate the thought of all that nutritious food going to waste. So, in an effort to both maximize your ghoulish good times and optimize the health benefits that carving up that pumpkin can provide, we have gathered here today to discuss just what sort of things — besides carving faces into them — can be done with a pumpkin.

And, let’s be honest – the culinary delights don’t have to stop there. Halloween is but one night of the year, yet pumpkins are around for much more. Thus, it’s time to start making them a frequent fare for family-fun dinners that don’t revolve around candy and costumes. There are so many great ways to put a good pumpkin to use. Check out these ideas.

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Save the Seeds

For goodness sakes, do not scoop that pumpkin clean for a Jack O’Latern and toss the seeds aside like garbage. Folks are paying big bucks for that stuff. And, why wouldn’t they? Pumpkin seeds are loaded with nutritional niceties, such as protein, zinc, potassium and Vitamin E, to mention but a few. They can be roasted on low heat for about fifteen minutes and provide a tasty snack or surprise additions to salads and pastas. Or, if you really want to get adventurous, try planting a few in the garden. It works pretty well.

Carve Some Flesh

Granted, this is not a typical utterance on a plant-based website, but while you are elbow-deep into gutting that pumpkin, before the candle has soiled it, carve off as much flesh as possible. Pumpkin meat (yep, I’ve now used “carve” and “meat”) is absolutely fantastic for soups, spreads and sauces. It whizzes up all creamy-like and provides a nice, warm feeling on frosty fall evenings. It also works well diced and roasted with a little salt and pepper.

Why Wait? Make Pie

Exactly! This whole idea of pumpkin pie only on the holidays is ridiculous. What better excuse is there for pumpkin pie than making sure you don’t waste what you pulled out of the Jack O’Latern. Or, for that matter, they aren’t around all that much of the year anyway, so why not take advantage of fresh pumpkin puree while it’s on offer? Forget the canned stuff. Buy a pumpkin and make your own.

Make It Sweeter

Pumpkin is delightful in soups and sauces, but it also does really delicious things when involved with something sweet. Check it out in pumpkin pie smoothies (the regular or super healthy version). Otherwise, it can make memorable cameos in breakfast foods, like oatmeal, pancakes, waffles and muffins. And, don’t forget those delicious homemade breads. If you love banana-nut loaves and zucchini bread, well, you’re going to like pumpkin and maple spice quickbread.

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The Ubiquitous Burger

Hey! Us plant-based diners are versatile and inventive. We’ve done burgers with beans, sweet potatoes, quinoa, broccoli and all other assortment of vegetable matter. Did you think it couldn’t be done with a pumpkin? For shame! Let good ole OGP show you the way to the pumpkin promised land: Amazing Vegan Pumpkin Burgers. Burgers — whatever plant they are made from — always just feel right.

So, fret not. You needn’t feel ashamed of making that Jack O’Latern, not with all these good ways to put the rest of that pumpkin to equally meaningful use. Likewise, you no longer need to fear those big orange monster stacked up below the veggie stands: They are friendly and delicious. They are even wicked healthy with lots of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, fiber, anti-oxidants, calcium and potassium. That’s nothing to be scared of.

Image source: Laszloen/ Wikimedia Commons

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