Halloween gives me the perfect opportunity to big up the nutritional benefits of the pumpkin. My local supermarket has been totally cleared out of all pumpkins large and small, and I guess most of them will end up being carved and used as lanterns.

However, this delicious vegetable, which is a member of the squash or gourd family (including all types of squash such as butternut, marrow and courgette) offers lots of potential on the nutrition front, so great to use them in cooking as well.  

High in beta carotene: the clue is in the orange colour. This vegetable some of the highest levels of beta carotene in the plant world. This nutrient is converted into vitamin A in the body, which plays a vital role in eyesight, healthy skin and our immune system

Rich in other carotenoids: pumpkins are also one of the top three food sources of lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cyptoxanthin. These are all types of beneficial phytonutrients that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Lutein and zeaxanthin in particular are key for eye health.

Save the seeds: as you are carving your pumpkin save the seeds, wash and clean them off and remove any fibres, then try this toasted pumpkin seed recipe. These seeds are total super foods:

A small snack sized portion of these seeds – around 25-30g also contains impressive levels of zinc, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and vitamin K. A good reason why a small handful of seeds each day makes a great snack.

Get creative: any flesh that you cut out can be used to make soup, or cook it down into a puree. This can be frozen into cubes using an ice tray – defrosted it makes a good baby food, or how about trying out these delicious paleo pumpkin pancakes – you can find the link to this recipe on my pinterest account