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Happy Halloween

Thursday 1 January 1970, 01:00
By Leah Macey

Halloween PumpkinsHalloween is believed to have originated in Ireland as the pagan harvest festival. Halloween is now celebrated on 31 October in much of the western world, including Canada, America, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

The original Halloween lantern was made from a turnip with a burning lump of coal inside. Irish immigrants took the 'neep lantern' custom to North America in the 1840s, but a shortage of turnips and the fact that pumpkins are easier to carve meant the 'neep lantern' was soon replaced by a pumpkin lantern.

Halloween is a great opportunity to get children involved and a fun way of encouraging them to try new foods. They can help pick out the best pumpkin and have fun carving different faces.

They can also help with scraping out the flesh, sorting and washing the seeds and making some tasty recipes.

Making a Halloween Lantern

Pumpkin skin can be quite tough so an adult should supervise lantern making.

  1. cut a circle in the stem end and lift out a lid
  2. scrape out the seeds into a bowl and scrape the flesh into another bowl
  3. carve a scary face
  4. add a tea light
  5. find some tasty ways to use the pumpkin flesh and seeds

Making the most of your Halloween Pumpkin

Halloween PumpkinsPumpkin can be used in lots of dishes, both savoury and sweet. The flesh can be roasted or used to make soup, risotto, curry, pumpkin pie or muffins and biscuits.

Pumpkin is a rich source of betacarotene, which the body can use to make vitamin A. It also contains calcium, iron, folate and vitamin C. Pumpkin is naturally low in salt and fat and can help you towards your 5-a-day target of fruit and vegetables.

Roasted Pumpkin

When you have scooped the flesh and seeds out of your pumpkin, cut the flesh into bite-sized chunks. Put it in a roasting tin, brushed with a little olive oil or vegetable oil and a sprinkling of herbs or spices and bake in a moderately hot oven until soft. Garlic, thyme, cumin, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon zest and chilli all work well with pumpkin.

You can also serve pumpkin mashed or puréed. Try mixing mashed pumpkin with mashed potato.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, zinc and iron. They are also rich in unsaturated fats, which are good for the heart. You can find pumpkin seeds in the home baking section of many supermarkets, but if you have time you can roast the seeds from your Halloween pumpkin to make a tasty snack.

When you have scooped out the seeds, rinse them in water and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Put the seeds in a roasting tin brushed with a little olive or vegetable oil and, if you like, some ground spices and bake them in a moderately hot oven for about 20 minutes. Give the seeds a stir as they bake and keep an eye on them to make sure they don't burn.

Pumpkin seeds make a great snack at any time of day – try putting them in lunchboxes. You can also use them to add a bit of crunch to salads, risotto, pasta or dishes such as shepherd's pie.

Sent in by Leah Macey


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