Linus was right: The mighty pumpkin brings good things to all who believe. Fancifully carved for Halloween or baked and enjoyed at holiday meals, this autumnal fruit’s benefits extend well beyond the pumpkin patch. A cup of cooked fresh pumpkin provides 564 mg of potassium (good for lowering blood pressure) and 5,135 mcg of beta-carotene, believed to protect against prostate cancer (International Journal of Cancer, 2005, vol. 113, no. 6). Pumpkin’s natural enzymes also work wonders for skin, says Melinda Milner, spa director at the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay in California, where locally grown pumpkins appear in several body treatments. “We use it mixed with a little orange peel for gentle exfoliation and hydration,” she says. “Once it’s rinsed away it leaves your skin feeling amazing. Plus people are usually hungry [afterward] because their bodies smell so good.” That’s no trick or treat: Researchers report that pumpkin pie’s famous scent may even spice up your sex life. Try these at-home tips to get more from your gourd.
In the kitchen
Brush fresh pumpkin wedges with olive oil and roast until tender; drizzle with fresh orange juice and ground cardamom. Concentrated, pure canned pumpkin provides even more nutrients than fresh; fold it into batters, smoothies, casseroles, and sauces. Try rich, redolent pumpkin-seed oil for dipping bread, or swirl it into savory soups. Toss fiber-rich toasted pumpkin seeds into salads or pasta dishes.
In the bath
Whip up this easy pumpkin body mask, courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Spa. Grind 2 tablespoons dry oats in a food processor. Mix in 1/4 cup canned pumpkin, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons cornmeal, and 2 tablespoons honey to form a paste. Apply from the neck down, including arms, legs, and stomach, using light strokes. Wrap yourself in a cotton sheet and lie down for ten minutes (it won’t stain). Rinse off in a warm bath or shower, pat dry, and moisturize.
In the bedroom
Studies show that pumpkin-pie aroma enhances sexual arousal. Light up your night with pumpkin pie-scented soy candles (or bake a real pie). Purchase the warming spice blend ready-made, or make your own by mixing 1/4 cup ground cinnamon with 1 tablespoon each of ground ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Adjust amounts to suit your scent preferences. Sprinkle inside pillowcases and breathe…