Life in Balance: Great ideas for using pumpkins this Halloween

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9 2012 10:44 p.m. MDT

Roast the seeds from a young or small pumpkin for a tasty snack.

Dian Thomas

Halloween and October parties are the perfect venue for using pumpkins. Here are some of my favorite ways to use them:

1. Roasted pumpkin seeds: Roast the seeds from young or small pumpkins for a tasty snack.

Rinse 2 cups pumpkin seeds until all the pulp and strings are washed off. In a medium bowl, combine 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 to 3 melted butter or blend (like SmartBalance), and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt. Add the seeds and stir until they are coated. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 225° F for 1 to 2 hours, until crisp. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Make 2 cups

2. Pumpkin becomes a punch bowl: This jack-o'-lantern becomes punch bowl for any occasion! Thoroughly clean the inside of the pumpkin, making sure you remove all the fibrous strings. Paint a jack-o'-lantern face with acrylic paints or a magic marker. Refrigerate the empty pumpkin until serving time. Pour the drink of your choice into the cold pumpkin.

3. Painted jack-o'-lantern faces: If you do not cut into the pumpkin and you keep them in a cool place they can last up to a month. You can let the artist in you come out when you take acrylic paints and paint on pumpkins. It is also fun to add scarfs, bandanas, ribbon and feather to the head of the characters that you paint. Instead of having people carve the jack-o'-lantern have them paint faces on the pumpkin.

4. Dry ice in a jack-o'-lantern: The key is to know how to deal with the dry ice and also make sure that children are never near the dry ice. You will need a pumpkin, carving knife (you can buy special knifes at Halloween that are safer than a kitchen knife) to cut out the face, 1 large can or container that can go in the top of the pumpkin, very hot water and 3 to 5 pounds of dry ice.

First, find a large can or container that you want to use inside of the pumpkin. Then find a pumpkin that you can cut the top off and place the can in the cavity of the pumpkin. Carve a face on the pumpkin. When I carve it I like to put a notch on the lid of the pumpkin so that I can always put the lid on so that it seals.

When you are ready to steam the pumpkin, place chunks of dry ice in the container. Always use heavy gloves when you are moving dry ice as it will burn anyone who touches it and never put it in an closed container.

I like to heat the water in a teapot and then pour it over the dry ice and the dry ice steam will pour out the face of the pumpkin creating a wonderful spooky effect. The steam will last up to 5 minutes depending of how hot the water is.

Speaker and author Dian Thomas shares her journey of weight loss, exercise and life on the run every other Wednesday in the Deseret News and at www.DianThomas.com. She also speaks to groups and takes tour to China. Email: info@dianthomas.com

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