Fall has arrived, and it is time for all things red and gold, warm and spicy. Cinnamon, cloves, and long walks over crunchy leaves are autumnal essentials, but nothing tops everyone’s favorite orange seasonal squash. Pumpkin is king during this time of year. It gets consumed in liquid form and pie form, and it sits on every front porch. It can also be a parent’s secret weapon to having a healthy weekend with children of all ages. Making the pumpkin the center of a Saturday project can be good for reducing screen time, baking, creating and bonding. Shake up your family time by theming it orange with a day dedicated to the pumpkin!

Note for prep: Since the day centers around pumpkin, it may benefit you to make a stop at a grocery store before and pick up pumpkin seeds and canned pumpkin to use in cooking.

Start by getting up and going to your local pumpkin patch, farm, or vegetable stand as a family. If you go somewhere that has a corn maze, even better! Let the kids pick a pumpkin to be their own. Walk around and take your time to ensure you pick the best pumpkins for your needs. Remember that darker pumpkins with darker stems are ready to be picked. If you want it for carving, a more hollow pumpkin will yield better results, so tap on it to be sure.

When you get home use your pumpkin supplies to keep the family time going! Pick a big one to carve a picture or a quote that means something special. If you have several small pumpkins, paint each one to look like each member of your family. Then, for a unique farm-to-table experience, use the pumpkin and the seeds to make fun recipes (we promise we won’t tell if you use pre-bought supplies). Pumpkin is a versatile food. Make pumpkin soup for dinner and pumpkin oatmeal for breakfast. There are fun recipes online to make pumpkin hummus as a seasonal snack to go into everyone’s lunch boxes. It provides an opportunity to let your children see the process of making food, and participate in the process. Talk about why certain foods are healthy and nutritious, and let them engage in the dinner process in a meaningful way. For example, pumpkin is high in potassium, and is a good source of fiber. It is also high in Vitamins A and C.

The best part about a day dedicated to one ingredient is, it isn’t restricted to one season or one fruit or vegetable! Get creative with this process and get kids actively engaged in the food they eat, and they’ll learn from a young age that healthy living can be fun!