Pumpkins are not just for Halloween anymore

Published 11:33 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Now that autumn is here, leaves will begin to fall, temperatures will begin to drop and, without fail, more and more pumpkins will appear on front steps, on porches and in lobbies across the city.

But the pumpkin is more than just a decorative tool; it’s also a main ingredient for some of the season’s favorite recipes.

“It’s just the season,” said Jill Peacock, owner of Farmer Frank’s. “Pumpkin is what people go to this time of the year. It’s the spirit of fall.”

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Peacock said her store sees a rush of buyers this time of year for pumpkins to use both for decorating and cooking, but the store’s pumpkin baked goods are the real hit.

“People don’t have the time to cook like they once did,” Peacock said. “They let us do that for them now, and we have pumpkin pies and pumpkin rolls, and people love them.”

The pumpkin roll is a pastry that combines pumpkin and cream cheese.

“They’re like potato chips, you can’t have just one,” Peacock joked.

And medical experts say having more pumpkin is not necessarily a bad thing.

According to a 2006 article for Associated Content, pumpkin meat is very high in carotenoids, which help neutralize free radicals that attack cell membranes. Additionally, pumpkins can help prevent the formation of cataracts and reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious eye problem than usually results in blindness.

Pumpkins are also high in antioxidants and have a lot of nutrients, including iron, zinc, and fiber.

And don’t forget about the pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin seeds are very high in protein, and they also contain copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. Additionally, their oil is high in phytosterols, which contributes to the reduction of blood cholesterol levels.

The amount of vitamins and nutrients in pumpkin seeds also led to a Healthdiaries.com list of 10 health additional health benefits of the seeds, which include improved bladder function, depression treatment, prevention of osteoporosis and prevention of kidney stones.

“It’s really good for you,” Peacock said. She added that people should also look for pumpkin products that have been made from freshly grown pumpkins, which have not been subjected to chemicals or preservatives.

“All of the stuff you take right out of the field, you don’t have to worry what’s put in it,” Peacock said. “You know it’s just the product and it’s good for you.”