a jack-o-lantern on a wooden bench with other winter squash. a pot of golden mums is next to the bench

October – Turning Spooktacular Jack-o’-Lanterns into Delish Creations!

Quick Summary

  • Pumpkins are rich in many nutrients including Vitamin A, potassium, and antioxidants.
  • Carving a pumpkin? Learn how to make the most of the pumpkin to minimize food waste.
  • Liven up your autumn table or Halloween celebration with nutritious recipes with appeal.

October – Turning Spooktacular Jack-o’-Lanterns into Delish Creations!

Summer has turned into fall, and Halloween is right around the corner. October is full of fun pumpkin patch activities, from picking the right pumpkin, carving jack-o’-lanterns, and decorating! Even though consuming pumpkin has health benefits, most pumpkins are thrown away after the celebration. According to U.S. Energy Department, almost 2 billion pounds of pumpkins are grown in the United States and ~1.3 billion pounds are tossed into landfills after Halloween every year. Food waste landfills emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Health benefits of pumpkins:

  • Pumpkins contain antioxidant nutrients, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. These may protect your cells against free radicals that cause damage, therefore, helping to reduce the risk of many diseases like heart disease and certain cancers.
  • Pumpkins also contain vitamins A C and E, iron, and folate, and can help boost your immunity.
  • One cup of pumpkin contains 200% of our recommended daily vitamin A intake. Vitamin A is crucial for vision health, skin, bones, lungs, and kidneys.
  • Pumpkin is rich in potassium which can help regulate heartbeat, fluid balance, nerve signals, and muscle contraction. Studies show that dietary potassium intake is beneficial to bone mineral density, boosting your bone health.
  • Pumpkins are low in calories and quite filling. The high fiber content helps your digestive system and keeps you regular.
  • Pumpkin seeds are an incredible source of protein, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. They are an excellent source of phosphorus, magnesium, iron and copper, too.
  • For all the health-giving benefits of pumpkins themselves, many pumpkin-flavored drinks and baked goods are highly processed and do not have same nutrients as whole pumpkins do.

Tips for hunting down the right pumpkin:

  • Know different varieties of pumpkins and choose the right kind. There are over 100 varieties of pumpkins. Sugar pie, jack-be-little, Jarrahdale, Hubbard, and kabocha are mostly used for cooking and eating because of their good flavor and texture, while Captain Jack is most suitable for carving.
  • Best pumpkins have a deep, hollow sound when you tap them. It is a simple way to see if the pumpkin is ripe.
  • Examine thoroughly on the outside and see if there are any soft spots or bruises.  Press gently with your fingers and see if the pumpkin is firm.
  • When picking a pumpkin at a pumpkin patch, look for a stem that is firm and dark green. If you are picking a pumpkin at a grocery store, look for well-attached, brown, and dry stem.

Should we throw out pumpkins? No way! We do not want to let those delicious and nutritious pumpkins go to waste! While we should never eat a carved pumpkin that has been sitting outside and exposed to dirt and insects, there are ways that we can make the most out of it.

How to utilize the whole pumpkin when carving:

  • When carving the pumpkin, keep the guts found in the middle of the pumpkin. The slimy stuff makes a perfect base for soups or mulled wine.
  • Also, those seeds (pepitas) are super delicious and healthy snacks that go well with breakfast cereals, yogurt, soups, and salads. 
  • The carved pumpkins can be perfect livestock feed. Try donating yours to a farm near you!
  • Composting carved pumpkins is another way to decrease food waste and greenhouse gas emissions. The steps involve removing all decorative items, smashing them into smaller pieces, and placing them onto a compost bin or pile.  

Let your Aggie Pride glow! 

Download, print and use these pumpkin carving stencils to give your porch some Aggie spirit this Halloween. Snap a picture of your creation and upload to your social media account tagged with @calaggiealumni and #UCDavisAlumni!


Seasonal Foods and Recipes

The season of WINTER SQUASH is BACK! Winter squash varieties like butternut squash, kabocha squash, and sugar pumpkin provide various nutrients and flavors! Cranberry, persimmon, and chestnuts are a few of our other fall favorites too.

There is a great site with seasonal produce and encyclopedia for each crop. You can select any states and months to see what’s ripening!

Kabocha squash is a Japanese variety of winter squash that is a smaller, squat version of pumpkin. It has a sweet, nutty, and velvety flavor. Along with other winter squash variations, kabocha is low in calories, high in dietary fiber, and vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, B-6, C, E, and iron.


Try cooking Hobakjook, a golden-yellow porridge with kabocha. It is popular comfort food in Korea that is incredibly delicious and melting your heart. Top it with pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, and dates for texture and flavor!  

Stuffed Delicata Squash

Try Stuffed Delicata Squash for a colorful presentation on the fall season! This dish easy-to-serve dish is a neat package full of nutrients and flavor. Be creative and add more stuffing you want!

California Figs and Pistachio Energy Bars

Figs are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals like vitamin A, C, calcium, magnesium, potassium. They have an aromatic and sweet flavor with the texture of mini seeds that can be a healthy treat. Bake California Figs and Pistachio Energy Bars for a quick a quick grab-and-go healthy snacks! Add pumpkin seeds and dates if you want more crunchiness and sweetness!


Liven up your Halloween celebration

Spooky Spider Deviled Eggs

This is an easy recipe and perfect appetizer  for your Halloween party! Try making these  cute little Spooky Spider Deviled Eggs. For healthier version, mayonnaise can be substituted with plain greek yogurt when creating this dish.

Halloween Stuffed Peppers

Tired of curving huge pumpkins? Try curving those bell peppers with beautiful colors. Those are super healthy Halloween Stuffed Peppers. It is fun and delicious way to enjoy different variety of vegetables!

Caprese Salad

Low in calories, packed full of vitamins and eyeballs! Why not Caprese Salad? Enjoy making those colorful green salad and show your artistic skills. Finish with balsamic vinaigrette!

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