Pumpkins may be the Charlie Brown of vegetables. They’re largely ignored all year, until October or November. Then we carve them, smash them or even use them as projectiles. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, most of the nearly 2 billion pounds of pumpkin grown in the U.S. end up in landfills.

It’s a shame, because pumpkins are low in calories (1 cup contains 49 calories) and high in fiber, antioxidants and vitamins. Some health authorities believe pumpkin may protect the eyes from age-related macular disease.

Pumpkin is also incredibly versatile. It can be baked, stewed, fried, steamed or roasted. It’s a terrific addition to pies, pancakes, cookies, soufflés, stuffing, soups, breads and even beer. You can also roast the seeds for a heart-healthy road snack.

Pumpkins weren’t always an ignored food. “Pumpkin” comes from the Greek word “pepon,” meaning large melon. Historians think pumpkins originated in Central America 7,500-plus years ago.

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