They may have become best known for their role in the generic and (let’s be honest) overrated spiced latte, but let’s face it— pumpkins always end up being one of our favorite crops of the season.

There are 45 varieties of pumpkin and all of them are edible. Personal favorites include heirloom varieties like the buff-colored Long Island Cheese that bakes into an exceptional pie or the white Polar Bear pumpkin that makes a silky soup.

Touted as a superfood, pumpkins are low in fat and calories, but rich in vitamins A, B, and C, iron, zinc, potassium, and beta carotene, and high in fiber.

The seeds, often referred to as pepitas and prominent in Latin cuisine, have been linked to promoting hair growth and lowering blood sugar levels, making them perfect for a snack or crunchy garnish on a salad.

Pumpkin flesh is versatile to use in a range of dishes beyond baking. Try them as the feature ingredient in a Thai-style curry or roast and mash them with rosemary, butter, and cream for a delicious side dish.

For a great local U-pick pumpkin event, check out Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center, where you can pick your own pumpkin, eat at the food truck pop-ups, and enjoy pony rides through the end of October.

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