Most children enjoy a trip to the pumpkin patch and picking out the perfect pumpkin for their jack-o-lantern.
But according to Jen Willoughby, Registered Dietician, of Cleveland Clinic Childrens, pumpkins can also pack a nutritional punch.
Pumpkin has a lot of fiber in it, said Willoughby. A cup of regular pumpkin or pureed pumpkin has three grams of fiber and not that many calories. Many kids are short on fiber, so if we can get them to eat more pumpkin, thats a great way to help them out.
Willoughby said pumpkin also has beta-carotene - its what gives the pumpkin its orange color.
After eating pumpkin, the beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, which children need to help maintain their eye sight.
And pumpkin also has potassium, which is important for blood pressure control and muscle recovery.
But, Willoughby said its important to be able to recognize the difference between real pumpkin and imposters.
Pumpkin products in the store, unfortunately, arent the same as pumpkin itself, said Willoughby. Now some of them are, but you have to be careful and you have to look at the ingredient list and see if theres pumpkin flavor, or if theres pumpkin in it.
She said pumpkin can also be used in the kitchen by swapping the oil and butter in recipes for pureed pumpkin it has the same texture and consistency, but more health benefits.
Willoughby said its important, though, to be sure to use actual pureed pumpkin and not pumpkin pie mix.
Pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie mix they look the same, but theyre not the same, said Willoughby. Pumpkin pie mix already has sugar and other things added to it, so if youre baking, you want to be sure just to get the plain pumpkin puree.
Willoughby said pumpkin puree can also be added to oatmeal, smoothies and even yogurt for an extra added flavor boost.
And dont throw away those pumpkin seeds theyre full of fiber and healthy fats and can be roasted after carving jack-o-lanterns.