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UC Food Safety
University of California
UC Food Safety

Pumpkin - It's great for pie and pi!

Students count pumpkin seeds as part of a math lesson.
Fall is my favorite time of year, because well, that is when pumpkins are in their full glory. Whether they are on display at a record setting weight of 1,985 pounds at the Half Moon Bay's annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off, arranged with assorted gourds on your fall table, or cut as a jack-o-lanterns for Halloween these simple fruits are an autumn treat. At the University of California Cooperative Extension UC Cal Fresh Nutrition Education program, we delight in all things pumpkin. At some schools we provide simple agriculture lessons teaching second-graders that pumpkins have ribs and cousins (zucchini and watermelon) just like people.

At Snowden Elementary in Farmersville, Mrs. Joy Smith fully utilizes this amazing squash. She incorporates the pumpkin and its many seeds to teach students about math. These skills are reinforced using tactile and spatial relations. Two excellent educators partner to demonstrate how the seeds can be added, multiplied and placed in arrays. Nutrition educator Grilda Gomez partners with Mrs. Smith to provide nutritional data related to eating the “meat” of the pumpkin as well as its seeds. For Smith and Gomez, pumpkins are not just great for pie but also for pi. Upon completion of math activities, the students continue celebrating the wonders of pumpkins by carving jack-o-lanterns with their high school buddies. While many of the students have eaten pumpkin pie, few have ventured beyond sugary variations of the fruit. On this day the students also get to enjoy a tasty treat prepared by Gomez, pumpkin spread served on whole wheat toast slices.

“Tastes like my ‘buela’s empanadas,” remarks a student.

Yes, similar to the mixture in empanadas, this recipe allows the students to enjoy the full flavor of pumpkin with very little added sugar. Pumpkins provide a terrific supply of Vitamins A and C. They are not just for dessert either. Pumpkins are a wonderful addition to creamy vegetable soups. Winter is approaching, but it’s not too late to pick this versatile squash.

Pumpkin spread

  • 16 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix in an pan and heat on the stove until it bubbles. Let cool slightly. Ready to eat warm or cold. Store in refrigerator up to 4 days. Use on toast or bread, tortillas, waffles and pancakes.

UC nutrition educator Grilda Gomez, back row far right, poses with the students and their jack-o-lanterns.
UC nutrition educator Grilda Gomez, back row far right, poses with the students and their jack-o-lanterns.

Posted on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 2:28 PM
  • Author: Julie Cates

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