4 Frighteningly Fun Ways to Make the Most of Your Pumpkins

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titleshotWe hear a lot about how to reuse and recycle Halloween candy, but there are plenty of things to do with those leftover orange gourds, too. And considering Americans are spending an average price of 41 cents per pound for jack-o-lanterns, according to the most recent USDA reports, stretching the dollars spent at the pumpkin patch, grocery store or roadside veggie stand can extend the fun of the Halloween season long after trick-or-treaters land on your doorstep.

Before tossing out the pumpkins your family carved, or those you used to decorate your porch or stoop, try out these fun and frugal ways to put used pumpkins to work for you.

1. Pamper yourselfPumpkin facial treatment

Leaves aren’t the only things that fall when pumpkins start to pop up. Temperatures start to get chilly, prompting the need to turn on your furnace or car heater. That shot of toasty air can warm your bones, but it can also dry out your skin, especially on your face.

I’ve found scrubs and masks made of pumpkin are great at nourishing skin. That’s because pumpkin is rich in vitamins C and E, nutrients dermatologists say are good for your skin.

“Vitamin C helps stimulate production of collagen to give skin a smooth, supple look,” says Rita Pichardo-Geisinger, professor and dermatologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. And pumpkin can be a great natural cleanser that will get rid of dirt or impurities during the day without stripping your skin of its natural oils that maintain skin’s balance.

This fall, instead of letting your pumpkins rot away or get eaten by squirrels, maintain a natural, healthy glow with these DIY pumpkin recipes.

Pumpkin facial cleanser
1 pumpkin wedge (make sure it’s clean of seeds or pumpkin slime)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water

Peel and shred the pumpkin using a grater or vegetable peeler. Bring water, salt and shredded pumpkin to a rolling boil, and then reduce heat to simmer the mixture until pumpkin is soft.

Drain and puree mixture in a blender or food processor (I’ve also used an immersion blender) until creamy.

Once completely cooled, place in a resealable container and store in refrigerator.

Use this daily or a few times a week to infuse a little healthful color in your daily beauty routine.

Pumpkin puree mask/facial
Several chunks of healthy pumpkin flesh that’s clean of seeds or pumpkin slime
½ teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon milk

Boil pumpkin chunks until soft enough to pierce lightly with a fork (you don’t want the pumpkin chunks to fall apart, be water-logged or mushy).

Place in a blender or food processor to make a plain pumpkin puree.

Mix the puree with honey and milk to form a paste (add a drop or two more of honey and milk until mixture is consistency of frosting), and apply to a clean, dry face (I like to use the pumpkin facial cleanser mentioned above). Avoid your eyelids and immediate eye area.

Let the mask dry on your face for 15 to 20 minutes, and then rinse with warm water. Pat dry your face and apply anti-aging serum, eye cream and then moisturizer to seal in the nutrients and moisture.

Pumpkin foot relief
Enough chunks of healthy pumpkin flesh to make 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of almond oil, olive oil or jojoba oil
1 tablespoon ground coffee beans
Juice of ½ fresh lemon

Boil the pumpkin, and puree it in a blender or food processor. Mix puree with remaining ingredients in a big bowl.

Use the mixture to scrub your feet in the tub or a large pail or bowl. Make sure to pay attention to callous areas like the heel or outside side of your foot.

Rinse with warm water, and pat dry. Store excess solution in a glass jar in a resealable container for up to five days.

2. Decorate with recycled pumpkinsPumpkin soup served in pumpkin shell.

Indulging in DIY spa treatments isn’t the only way to preserve the spirit of the pumpkin season. Whether they’re carved or whole, have fun with these dollar-stretching ideas:

Candle holders
Carve out the top of a small pumpkin and remove pulp and seeds. Place a votive in the pumpkin.

Soup bowls
Turn pie pumpkins into soup tureens by slicing off the top and scooping out the pulp and seeds. You can use these for any soup, but it works best with cream soups.

3. Snack on the seedsseeds
One of my favorite childhood memories is carving pumpkins with my father. Sure, creating the faces was fun, but gutting the pumpkin and fishing out all the seeds was a crowd-pleaser in our house. We’d wash the seeds and spread them on a cookie sheet for roasting. (Bake at 300 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until crunchy and dry.) Pumpkin seeds are great by themselves, as salad toppings or sprinkled over pumpkin or butternut squash soup. For added flavor, you can sprinkle hot seeds with salt or a dash of cinnamon as soon as they come out of the oven.

4. Feed the birdsfeed birds
Chop up a carved pumpkin and toss with bird seed to give birds and squirrels a treat after Halloween.

Got a great idea for used pumpkins? Let me know your favorite way to put your pumpkins to work for you.

Photo credit: Getty Creative

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