You can’t get away from pumpkins this time of year, from jack-o-lanterns to pies to cookies and lattes. But have you ever tried eating one? I mean honest to goodness, just baking one up and eating it? If not, you’re missing out on not only one of the most delicious ways to enjoy this gourd, but the healthiest.

Most pumpkin-flavored edibles this time of year fall more into the dessert category than a healthy vegetable side dish. But just like squash, the flesh of a pumpkin is very sweet and knocks quite nutrition punch. One cup of pumpkin contains only 49 calories, 3g of fiber, 2g protein, a shocking 245% of your daily recommended value of Vitamin A and 19% of the Vitamin C and 8% of the iron you need in a day. The medium decorative pumpkins, almost too small to carve, but the right size to draw on, bake up the best. Here’s how:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Wash the exterior of the pumpkin in water.

Cut the pumpkin in half.  A serrated knife and a sawing motion works best (just like with carving a jack-o-lantern, a smooth knife may slip and cut you.)

Scoop out the stringy guts and seeds with a spoon or ice cream scoop. Save the seeds to bake up later for a delicious snack.

Place face down on a baking sheet. Add half an inch of water to keep the pumpkin moist. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until a fork easily inserts into the pumpkin with little resistance.

You can cube it up or just eat it out of the shell with a spoon. Sprinkle with some brown sugar (or cinnamon!) and pumpkin pie spice for a familiar flavor, or experiment with spicy or savory seasonings if you feel like living dangerously.

Your kids, or a picky spouse, won’t be able to get enough, especially if you describe the prep process as hacking it open, scooping out the guts, shoving it in a hot oven then eating its flesh. Doesn’t get more gruesomely Halloween-y than that.

You can also use the pumpkin in baked goods, smoothies, mix it with yogurt and granola or puree it into soup. The options are endless. Grab one and pay homage to The Great Pumpkin.

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