pumpkinpatch.jpg This time of year conjures up images of little goblins, black cats and a lot of pumpkins. Here are some spooktacular ways to reuse your pumpkin guts:

1. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

These are one of my favorite pumpkin treats. If you’re carving a jack-o-lantern this year, when you remove the pulp and seeds from inside the pumpkin, use them to create a healthy and delicious treat. 

How to roast pumpkin seeds:  
  • Remove your pumpkin seeds from the orange pulp and rinse. A great way to do this is to put the seeds and guts into a big bowl of water and use your hands to separate. The seeds will float to the top. 
  • You will need: the seeds from a large pumpkin, 2-3 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil and salt to taste. 
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter and salt. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown; stir occasionally.

2. Saving Pumpkin Seeds.

If you have an extra beautiful, organic pumpkin that you’d like to have more of, save your seeds to plant next season. 

How to save seeds: 
  • Remove and clean your pumpkin seeds. Plan on saving roughly three times more pumpkin seeds than the number of plants you will be growing next year. Larger seeds will have a better chance of germinating. 
  • Place the rinsed seeds on a dry paper towel. Make sure they are spaced out; otherwise, the seeds will stick to one another. 
  • Place in a cool dry spot for one week. 
  • Once the seeds are dry, store pumpkin seed for planting in an envelope and place the envelope somewhere cold and dry. 
For more information about saving all kinds of seeds, visit http://www.seedsavers.org/.

3. Compost.

After your jack-o-lantern has done duty as decoration, you can recycle it by popping it in your compost bin. Remove any artificial decorations (and candles!).

4. Feed Wildlife.

We accidentally did this one winter when we forgot our naturally decorated pumpkin out on our deck. It snowed early that year so it was well preserved and the girls loved watching the squirrel come for a treat all winter long. You could make it easier for your wildlife friends by chopping up your carved pumpkin. You could also separate the seeds and strings for the birds.

5. Make Pumpkin Muffins.

If you didn’t carve your pumpkin and there aren’t any bruises, mold or soft spots, you can turn it into something delicious. Be sure to thoroughly wash the outside of the pumpkin with soap and water. Then cut your pumpkin in half. Place on baking sheet, cut side down. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) until tender, about 90 minutes. Scoop out pumpkin pulp and puree in blender (or mush with a fork). Measure out 2 cups and set aside. 

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour 
1 cup sugar 
½ cup brown sugar 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
½ teaspoon salt 
2 teaspoons cinnamon 
¼ teaspoon nutmeg 
¼ teaspoon ground cloves 
2 eggs 
2 cups pumpkin puree 
½ cup vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
¾ cup mini chocolate chips (optional, but delicious) 

Make your muffins: 
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Grease baking pan or use paper liners. 
  • Measure out dry ingredients and mix together. Set aside. 
  • In another bowl, mix wet ingredients. 
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together. Make sure you don’t over mix the batter; just stir until everything is well blended. 
  • Bake your muffins for 20 to 25 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean).