Last Sunday, I excitedly welcomed over two of my close friends to help me bake a pumpkin I had recently picked in a pumpkin patch. We had no idea what to do but thanks to Google, we made a sweet day of preparing the pumpkin and baking festive fall desserts.

If you want to feel more in the autumn spirit I would totally recommend inviting over a few friends and baking a pumpkin together. It’s actually fairly easy and there are quite a few benefits of baking with pumpkin.

Beta-carotene, which gives pumpkins their orange pigment, improves the body’s immunity and fights cancer-causing cells. Pumpkins also provide Vitamin A which helps sustain healthy skin, and their seeds contain fiber for good digestion.

pumpkin, vegetable, gourd, squash, pasture, acorn squash
Steph Auble

How to Bake a Pumpkin

1. Carve out the stem of the pumpkin and a bit of the top with a sharp knife and pull out all of the gooey, stringy, parts on the inside. (I used a spoon to scrape along the inside of the pumpkin.)

2. Cut the pumpkin into two pieces and set one of the pieces face down onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Cover the piece with foil as well. Repeat for the other piece of pumpkin.

3. The oven needs to be preheated to 375 degrees F, and it will take about 1 ½ hours to fully bake.

(This is the part where we brought out the ol’ Scattergories and played at least 10 rounds. I even bought apple cider for us to drink while we waited.)

Once the pumpkin is finished baking it will be easy to scoop out with a fork or spoon and into a large bowl or two. I was shocked at how full the bowls were after just baking one pumpkin! Then Matt and Alysha puréed all of the pumpkin with a food processor. They put about two cups of pumpkin into zip lock baggies (there were about six or seven baggies in the end).

That’s makes for a TON of pumpkin recipes! You can also make some mighty fine (cinnamon sugar) pumpkin seeds

cereal, nut, pumpkin seeds, coffee, pasture
Marina Poole

#SpoonTip: Try pre-heating at a lower temperature than the recipes calls for. Our seeds burnt to a crisp after about 15 minutes, so you may want to check the oven every few minutes and keep an eye on ‘em.

My mom and I make these muffins all the time. The ingredients make us feel good about the kind of treat we’re whipping up.

cake, muffin, pastry, sweet
Katherine Carroll

These cookies are gooey, yummy, and even make you feel healthy. (I actually substituted the pure maple syrup with honey for convenience.)

pasta, vegetable, spaghetti
Diona Campbell

This last one is a classic recipe that uses white sugar. These muffins are perfect to share with a group of friends that may not be into the healthier recipes. The nutmeg and cinnamon spices make a delectable fall taste and pair great with cream cheese frosting.

Happy fall, everyone!