Pumpkins mean fall, Jack O’-Lanterns and Halloween. But they also mean yummy pumpkin bread, muffins, pasta, cakes, cookies and pies.

Some pumpkin facts:

  • It’s thought the pumpkin originated in North America. Pumpkin-type seeds were found in Mexico between 7000 and 5500 BC.
  • Although pumpkins generally weigh 9-18 pounds, they can be over 75 pounds and as much as 1,000 pounds!
  • 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced each year in the U.S. The top producing states are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California where they find warm weather and soil that holds water well.

Most of us may think more about carving pumpkins than cooking them, but they are a very versatile fruit. Yes, I did say fruit. Pumpkins can be boiled, baked, steamed, roasted, fried, mashed and pureed. Everyone enjoys the orange color of most pumpkins (they also come in green, yellow, red, white, blue, and tan), and that also means they’re loaded with vitamins as well as beta carotene that helps reduce certain types of cancer and lowers the risk of heart disease. Pumpkins are 90% water so are low in calories, fat and salt and have zero cholesterol.

With 7 grams of fiber in a 1 cup serving, canned pumpkin is a tasty source of fiber in the diet. Some serving ideas: combine it with beans for a mean veggie burger, simmer a stockpot of pumpkin soup on a chilly day, or even add it to waffle batter for a breakfast that’s worth getting out of bed for.