This time of year they are everywhere. They are in patches, on porches, in huge piles at the grocery store, decorating tables, and so much more. We know that carving them is fun. We know that roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious. We know that pumpkin pie is even more delicious, but do we know what else we should be doing with these strange looking orange gourd-like squash? Do we know why we shouldn’t let these seasonally abundant symbols of Fall and Americana go to waste? The answer is simple: pumpkins are great for us inside and out.


Pumpkins of all sizes are packed with vitamins and carotenoids, a type of antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of many forms of cancer, lower rates of heart disease and macular degeneration, and boost immunity. They also boast B vitamins, niacin, ribolflavin, ascorbic acid, and vitamins A and C. Even the pumpkin’s relatively unassuming looking seeds are loaded with vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, along with omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The seeds can be used roasted, raw, ground, or whole in salads, tossed into cereals, bread mixes, or added to veggie burgers. The meat of the pumpkin is actually quite easy to cook with and with a little creativity can create a delicious and nutritious appetizer, soup, entrée, snack, or dessert. The following is an amazing recipe recommended by one of my favorite chefs, Isa Moskowitz (who resides here in Portland):

Pumpkin, Banana, and Chickpea Curry

Large fry pan
Large pot with lid

3 tablespoons sunflower oil (or olive oil)
1 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 lbs pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed (about 2 ½ cups)

1 tablespoon hot curry paste (or 2 if you are hardcore)
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 dried red chilies
1 1/4 cups vegetable stock
1 3/4 cups canned chick-peas, drained
1 large banana
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro or parsley
1/2 cup pine nuts, to garnish

1. Heat 2 tbls. of the oil in a saucepan, add the onion, garlic, red pepper, ginger and ground spices, and fry over a medium heat for 5-6 mins until the onion is lightly browned.
2. Place the pumpkin in a bowl, add the curry paste (I add a bit of hot water to thin it out) and toss well to coat the pumpkin evenly.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes, chilies and stock to the onion mixture, and bring to the boil, simmering gently for 15 mins.
4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan, add the coated pumpkin and fry for 5 mins until golden.
Add to the tomato sauce with the chickpeas, cover and cook for 20 mins until the pumpkin is tender.
5. Peel the banana, slice thickly and stir into the curry 5 mins before the end of the cooking time.

Stir in the chopped cilantro or parsley, and sprinkle the pine nuts over the top.
Serve immediately.


The nutritional value of pumpkin is not limited to your diet. It is also an excellent way to boost the health and radiance of your skin when used topically. When used as an ingredient in skin care products, pumpkin has benefits for all skin types. This is especially true if your skin is damaged from environmental factors, such as overexposure to the sun. It is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help repair damage from free radicals and vitamin A, which can soothe and soften your skin. Pumpkin also contains natural enzymes that help to dissolve dry skin cells, acting as an effective exfoliant. Pumpkin is also very effective in regulating the sebum production of your skin, so it is great for oily or acne-prone skin, and it aides in balancing dry skin.

One such product is a unique treatment masque featured at The Dragontree from the organic skin care brand, LIVIA. The Pumpkin Pro-Enzyme Masque is 10% glycolic and enzymatic, which means it helps to improve the texture of your skin. The active nature of the masque allows you to achieve that ‘spa facial tingle’ at home. The main key ingredient is organic pumpkin, but it also includes many seasonally appropriate and beneficial ingredients such as sugar maple and orange extracts and cinnamon bark, nutmeg, and ginger root powders.

So this year be sure to treat the pumpkin with the respect it really deserves. No more just carving, decorating, and wasting. It’s time to put all of the yummy healthy goodness the pumpkin offers to work for you.

– Dominee Cagle, Spa Director PDX

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