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Pumped Up for Pumpkin

By Monica Williams, USDA
Published October 24, 2019

Summer is fading, and the fall season will soon be bringing crisp air and colorful leaves, and creatively carved pumpkins will be sitting on the front steps of neighborhood houses. Pumpkins—fall wouldn’t be quite the same without them—but what do you really know about them?

Did you know pumpkin is a member of the squash family and it is rich in beta-carotene? Beta-carotene is a carotenoid and antioxidant. This natural plant compound is what gives pumpkins their beautiful bright orange hue.

Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) developed an environmentally friendly way to measure beta-carotene and other beneficial carotenoids found in pumpkin. The scientists’ research has shown that pumpkin has more beta-carotene than many other foods in your kitchen cabinet. Even more exciting is that our bodies can naturally convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, an essential vitamin that helps to promote good eye health and vision, healthy skin, proper development and more. Now that’s a reason to get pumped up for pumpkin!

Including the pureed pumpkin found in cans at your local market, pumpkin is used in a variety of tasty dishes from soups and smoothies to snacks and your favorite desserts. If that wasn’t enough, here’s another reason to get pumped up for pumpkin: ARS scientists have identified native bees that are important pollinators of pumpkin plants to ensure we have an abundant supply of this seasonal treat.

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins
Enjoy these delicious muffins for breakfast anytime of the year using canned pumpkin and frozen cranberries.


• 2 cup flour
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 3 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 3/4 teaspoon allspice
• 5/16 cup vegetable oil
• 2 egg, large (large)
• 3/4 cup pumpkin (canned)
• 2 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen chopped)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Sift together dry ingredients (flour through allspice) and set aside.
3. Beat oil, eggs, and pumpkin together until well blended.
4. Add the wet ingredients (pumpkin mixture) to the dry ingredients all at once. Stir until moistened.
5. Fold in chopped cranberries.
6. Spoon into paper lined muffin cups.
7. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 30 minutes.
(Source: University of Massachusetts, Extension Nutrition Education Program, Pumpkin Post/Banana Beat)

Quote of the Day:
“Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of isolation, fear of failure. A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, insignificant or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve man's self-respect and inherent human dignity. It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that might is right to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear. Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man.”

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