Pick up your fork and help prevent some types of cancer by eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Research has shown that foods rich in beta carotene - the plant form of vitamin A - may help lower cancer risk.

Beta carotene is a substance found in most dark, leafy-green vegetables, broccoli and red, yellow and orange vegetables and fruits; citrus fruits; and the juices from any of these.The human body efficiently converts beta carotene to needed vitamin A. It has been cited by both the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society as a possible dietary inhibitor of certain cancers, especially those of the lungs, skin and digestive system.

Beta carotene also plays a role in good vision; healthy, beautiful skin; a strong immune system; and bone and tooth development.

This could mean you should munch on carrot sticks more often and that President Bush should eat his broccoli, whether he hates it or not.

This time of year, it means you should celebrate the pumpkin because it's the richest source of beta carotene in the fruit/vegetable kingdom.

Just one cup of canned solid-pack pumpkin delivers 700 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. The same amount also offers 500 milligrams of potassium, as well as vitamin C, iron, even calcium.

All things considered, that makes pumpkin pie or pumpkin cake a pretty decent dessert choice. And here are other easy ways to add half a cup of convenient canned pumpkin to your diet:

- Stir into gingerbread or spice cake mix.

- Fold in for colorful mashed potatoes.

- Stir into a batch of hot oatmeal; sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar.

- Use to thicken chili, beans or sloppy joes.

- Cook butterscotch pudding mix with 2 cups low-fat milk and 1/2 cup canned pumpkin.

Apple Butter Crumble Pie

1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust (4-cup volume)

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup apple butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon each grated ginger, nutmeg, salt

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup undiluted evaporated milk

Crumble topping:

1/2 cup flour

3 tablespoons softened margarine

5 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup chopped pecans Yield: 8 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes with prepared pie crust

Bake time: 60 minutes

Fit pastry into 9-inch pan and set aside. In large mixer bowl, combine pumpkin, apple butter, brown sugar, spices and salt. Add eggs and milk. Mix well; pour into crust. Bake at 375 degrees 50-60 minutes (if using a foil pan, set pie on preheated cookie sheet to help brown the bottom crust). Filling is set when a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

To make crumble topping, blend flour, softened margarine, sugar and chopped pecans. Sprinkle over pie and bake an additional 15 minutes. Prevent pastry from overbrowning with a foil collar; remove last 15 minutes.

(Recipe from Libby's.)

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

2 cups unsifted flour

2 teaspoons each baking soda, cinnamon

3 eggs or egg substitute

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

3/4 cup granulated sugar

11/2 cups canned pumpkin (or cooked, mashed carrots or baby-food strained carrots)

1 cup oil

1 (9-ounce) package condensed mincemeat, crumbled Yield: 15- by 10-inch cake

Prep time: 1 hour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together flour, soda and cinnamon. In a large mixer bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar until blended. Stir in pumpkin or carrots and the oil. Add flour mixture and crumbled mincemeat. Blend well.

Turn cake batter into a lightly greased 15- by 10-inch jelly roll pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with cream cheese frosting.

(Recipe from Borden's.)