Pick a recipe for perfect pumpkin 

Dark orange veggies are your best health friends

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Thanksgiving — gone. Halloween — gone. Now all those old pumpkins are hanging around.

But wait a sec, before you toss them into the garbage where they'll clog up the landfill. Dark orange and yellow veggies are your best friends any time of year, but especially now with the cold and flu season coming on.

They're loaded with nutrients and compounds that fight cancer, and they can help control your weight. Their high potassium content makes them good for the nerves, but it's their high carotene content that's their big health advantage. An average serving of pumpkin provides your full daily requirement and a good chunk of butternut squash has four times your recommended daily allowance plus tons of vitamins and minerals.

Pumpkin is yummy and can be used in much the same way as any orange or yellow winter squash. Just remember the flesh has a higher moisture content, so adjust your recipes accordingly.

It was Sarah McMillan at Rootdown Organics in Pemberton who got me cooking up pumpkin like it was squash. She grew up in Australia, where winter squash are called pumpkins and roasting pumpkin (squash) in the oven was a great family tradition. The turning point happened when she told me I didn't have to peel it.

Sarah's quick and delicious roasted pumpkin goes like this: Wash and seed the pumpkin; chunk it and arrange the pieces in a single layer in a roasting pan; drizzle them with olive oil (or butter); season and roast them at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. Add more butter when you serve it.

My pal, Mona Houle, just finished canning her own pumpkin purée and then made this recipe, below. It's as simple as pie, and can be converted into pumpkin squares by using a square glass baking dish and adding a crumble topping like you would for apple crisp.

Not Just For Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Serves eight

1 15-oz can pumpkin purée

3/4 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp mace 

1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp molasses

1 1/4 cup evaporated milk

3 large eggs (room temperature)

Preheat oven to 375º. In a large bowl blend pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, mace and salt. In a separate bowl combine molasses, evaporated milk and eggs. Pour egg mixture into the pumpkin mixture and whisk thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a partially baked pie shell and place on middle rack of the oven. Bake one hour until the top of the pie looks shiny and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. If the crust is browning too fast, cover with an aluminum foil collar. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.

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