’Tis the season for organic pumpkins, as both tabletop decorations and a fall recipe ingredient.  

Pumpkins were cultivated in America before the first colonists arrived. While purists may choose to roast and clean a whole pumpkin, cooks who use pureed, canned pumpkin should not be discouraged. If you opt for fresh pumpkin, however, choose a smallish gourd (around 2 pounds), as its flesh is more tender and flavorful.  

One advantage to using fresh pumpkin is the seeds. Roasting pumpkin seeds—a particularly fun project for families with kids—produces a healthful snack that’s a rich source of vitamins and minerals.  

The bright orange flesh of pumpkins also hints at the health benefits waiting inside, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. The yellow-orange pigment is characteristic of foods rich in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A plays an important role in eye and skin health.  

Add the benefits of fiber, potassium and vitamin C, and you have a food that deserves a place on your plate year-round.  

Tune in tomorrow for a great recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Soup.