Food waste is a growing problem and Halloween sees a vast number of pumpkins ‘bought, carved and binned’, when they could be turned into ‘mouth-watering – and quite healthy – meals’ says Kiri Elliott, Lecturer in Dietetics at Birmingham City University.
“It was recently reported that around eight million pumpkins will be thrown away after Halloween, as people buy them to carve but don’t eat them.
“According to Friends of the Earth, we waste roughly one third of all food produced for human consumption.
“People forget that pumpkins are actually food. But when you’re carving spooky lanterns for Halloween, you can easily recycle the seeds and flesh you scoop out to turn into something tasty.
“Pumpkins have a very high water content (of around 95%) and are, therefore, lower in calories than lots of other vegetables in season at this time of year, so depending on the cooking method, tucking into pumpkin at mealtimes can be really helpful to those watching their energy intake.
“Pumpkin flesh provides a range of essential vitamins including vitamin A, and vitamin E and also a variety of minerals such as potassium and calcium. The profile of vitamins and antioxidants in pumpkin is related to its rich orange colour. To get a full range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help your body to function at its best, complement pumpkin by eating fruit and veg that cover the whole rainbow!
“Pumpkin seeds are a great source of a variety of essential minerals too but alongside this they also contain unsaturated fatty acids and decent amounts of protein and fibre so can definitely be considered a healthy snack.”
Cut down on food waste and turn your leftover carved pumpkin into something delicious rather than reaching for the bin this Halloween. Here are five frightfully good recipe ideas…
1. Roasted pumpkin seeds
Use the part of a pumpkin that most would throw away and make roasted pumpkin seeds. These are great for adding crunch to a salad, or enjoy them on their own as a healthy snack.
Easy to make, simply clean the seeds, boil them in salt water before drying them, adding a splash of oil and seasoning before baking. Experiment with your favourite flavours by adding different seasonings to different batches. Read the full recipe.
2. Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin pie is a traditional American favourite. Use the flesh from your carved pumpkin for this dish. Make sure to remove the seeds first and cut the flesh into chunks which you can then boil and season, before adding to a shortcrust pastry tart base. Discover the full recipe.
3. Stuffed pumpkin
Stuffed vegetables are a staple, and you can fill them with whatever you fancy – or whatever you have to use up in the fridge - making this a brilliant dish for reducing food waste.
This will be easier if the holes you’ve carved are on the smaller side, so that the filling doesn’t spill out. Scoop out the seeds and pith before baking the pumpkin and making a filling of your choice, this recipe suggests rice, fennel and apple.
4. Pumpkin soup
Pumpkin soup is perfect for those who want an easier recipe to try.
Remove the seeds and use the flesh of your pumpkin to make the soup. Cut the flesh into chunks and fry off some onion before adding the pumpkin into the pan. You’ll also need some stock and cream for this recipe which takes you through step-by-step.
5. Pumpkin cake
Turn your pumpkin into a sweet treat and swap carrots for your leftover pumpkin in a pumpkin cake.
A twist on the traditional carrot cake, this recipe can be baked in a large tray so you don’t need to worry about heaps of washing up afterwards.
Find a variety of pumpkin recipes over on BBC Good Food. Find out more about Birmingham City University’s Dietetics and Food and Nutrition courses on the University’s website or at the upcoming Open Day on Sunday 24 November.
Find out more
If you have a passion for nutrition and food then you might be interested in our BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition, BSc Food and Nutrition or MSc Dietetics courses.