If you have a child who gives you a difficult time about eating fruits and vegetables, don't fight him. Instead, make food so fun and interesting that he can't wait to try it. A perfect food to try is pumpkin. Kids are fascinated with pumpkins for many reasons: They are in season during Halloween, which gives them a certain mystique; they can grow quite large, larger than your child; and they are fun to carve and decorate. Combine this natural pumpkin fascination with some tips and tricks to get your child to eat this healthy fruit that contains potassium and vitamin A.
Where Pumpkins Grow
Teach your child geography using pumpkins. Print out a map of the United States and four pictures of pumpkins. Cut out the pumpkins to use as markers. Tell your child that the top four states where pumpkins are grown are California, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Have her locate those states on the map and mark them with her pumpkin. If you live in one of those states, the game becomes more exciting. Now that you have your child interested in pumpkins, encourage her to eat food made from one.
How Big Pumpkins Get
Tell your child that while some pumpkins are only 2 pounds, pumpkins can weigh 1,000 pounds or more and be grown throughout the United States. When children are involved in the planting and growing process for any type of fruit or vegetable, they are more likely to eat it. Plant pumpkin seeds after the last frost. If you live in the north, plant them in May for Halloween; if you live in the south, plant them in July. Your child can help you plant the seeds and weed the area. Harvest the pumpkins when they are the right color, usually bright orange, but some varieties are yellow or white.
You will be happy to know that pumpkin seeds contain zinc and other nutritious trace minerals, according to EducationWorld. Ask your child to help you roast the seeds for a delicious and fun snack. Separate the fiber from the seeds, and rinse them in a colander under cold water. Place the seeds in a pan of salted water, bring to a boil and simmer for two hours. Dry the seeds, and place them on a cookie sheet. Roast the seeds in a 300-degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes. Add salt and butter, if you like, or sprinkle kid-friendly ranch dressing mix over the seeds.
Pureeing the inside of the pumpkin is the No. 1 use for it, and it is easy to do. Cut the pumpkin in half and discard the fleshy part and the seeds. Put sections of the pumpkin cut side down in a baking pan with a cup of water. Bake in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 90 minutes. Scoop out the flesh and puree it in a food processor. Use the puree to make pumpkin pancakes, a kid favorite, making this an ideal way to introduce pumpkin to your child.
- University of Illinois Extension: Pumpkins and More
- University of Illinois Extension: Watch Your Garden Grow
- EducationWorld; Pump Up the Curriculum With Pumpkins; August 2009
- North Dakota State University Extension Service; Preserving Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds and Popcorn; March 1989
- Earth911.com; 10 Uses for Your Pumpkin; Mary Mazzoni; November 2010
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images