We all know and love the pumpkin pie and it’s goofy cousin the jack-o-lantern, but the veritable pumpkin can be used for all sorts of fun during the fall season.
Native to the Americas, the pumpkin is an apt representation of the harvest: big, beautiful and round. Actually a member of the squash family and therefore a fruit, pumpkins of all shapes and sizes can be found across the nation this time of year tumbling out of grocery stores, baking in almost every kitchen and resting on front stoops from New England to Newport Beach.
Look beyond the pumpkin pie – here are ten neat things to do with pumpkin:
1. Face Mask: Pumpkin is a healthy food to eat, and its high concentration of vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc is good for sun-damaged, dry or sensitive skin. Take a couple of tablespoons of purred pumpkin, either cooked fresh or from a can (make sure to buy a can of ‘pure’ pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix). Add a touch of honey and a dab of milk, apply to face for fifteen minutes while you relax, then wash off and bask in your new glow!
2. Pumpkin Pot of Stew: Small sugar pumpkins make cute and seasonally appropriate bowls for serving a hearty fall stew. Just cut off the tops, scoop out the seeds, rub the insides with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake the pumpkins and their lids, right side up, for 25 minutes at 350 degrees on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Remove lids, turn pumpkins upside down and bake another 25 minutes. Let cool and then fill with your favorite fall stew. The pumpkin provides an edible bowl and sweet-savory taste addition to your choice of stew, and looks fantastic on the table!
3. Pumpkin Tree: Get an assortment of bright orange, round pumpkins and hang them from a tree in your front yard to make a pumpkin tree! Leave it up all season long or invite guests over to “pick” a pumpkin and throw a jack-o-lantern carving party. If you are really handy, you can hang the jack-o-lanterns back up in the tree for a spooky glowing effect.
4. Smash it: Make a pumpkin piñata by carving out the pumpkin through a small hole in the top and filling it with candy. Hang it from a tree at your harvest party, blindfold the players one at a time and try to smash it with a bat. It will be really messy – and the kids will absolutely love it, of course.
5. Grow it: Wash, dry and save the seeds from your pie pumpkin or jack-o-lantern, and plant them the following spring in your yard or garden. Pumpkins are easy to grow, and from the tiny round globules in late spring to the giant orange wonders that result in the fall, watching your very own pumpkin grow is a traditional way to mark the seasons.
6. Pumpkin Bowling: Find the roundest pumpkin you can and remove the stem, and then use it in place of the ball in a kiddie bowling set at your Halloween party for kids or adults. The pumpkin will never roll quite straight, and that is half the fun on the crooked holiday of Halloween!
7. Table Décor: Feeling crafty? Buy an assortment of pumpkins in different shapes and sizes, as well as some pretty fall flowers (real or artificial) and colorful candles. Remove the pumpkins’ stems and hot glue flowers or candles on top of them for an assortment of looks that fits your holiday table – or give the decorations out individually as harvest gifts.
8. Wear It to Scare: Cut a large hole in the bottom of a large pumpkin, scrape out all of the insides very well, then carve a jack-o-lantern face. You can wear it this way on your head, or use it to scare trick-or-treaters: cut a hole in a card table and sit underneath it (hidden by a table skirt) on your front porch. When trick-or-treaters arrive for their candy, they will get the trick of a moving, talking pumpkin head!
9. Fill It With Guts & Eyeballs: Carve the top off a medium-size pumpkin and scoop out all of the insides. Fill it with cold cooked spaghetti noodles (guts) and peeled grapes (eyeballs), and then trick your partygoers with the gooey mess as they enter or exit your party! Younger children will get a real kick out of the “guts and eyeballs.”
10. Pumpkin Hair Mask: Just as pumpkin makes a great moisturizer for your face, it also makes your hair shinier and stronger. Mix one cup fresh cooked pumpkin (or canned pumpkin) with four tablespoons of coconut oil in a food processor. Apply the creamy mixture to your hair, cover with a shower cap (or plastic wrap) and leave on for 30 minutes. Wash the mix out very well, then shampoo and enjoy your shiny new hair!