If you’ve carved pumpkins this fall, you’ve probably at some point Googled how to roast their seeds (we recommend butter, sea salt, Worcestershire sauce — yum!). But if you’re wondering what else you can do with pumpkin seeds, these home, beauty, and life hacks might make you rethink the classic fall snack.
Soothe an itchy scalp fast.
As the days get cooler and drier, your scalp has become flaky and irritated. What can help: Mix 1 ⁄2 cup of pureed pumpkin with 2 Tbs. of brown sugar. Rub onto damp scalp for two minutes, then rinse. The pumpkin’s alpha hydroxy acids slough off dead skin and promote new growth, while the sugar exfoliates, reducing inflammation and flakes.
Help candles stay upright.
Oops! You bought a Halloween-themed taper candle, but it doesn’t fit in your candlesticks. Good thing you have a few mini gourds on hand! Carve a hole just big enough to fit the candle in the top of a gourd and pop the candle inside. The custom cut ensures your candle will stay in place.
Lighten age spots naturally.
Rather than buying pricey products to fade age spots, enlist the help of pumpkin. Simply combine 1 Tbs. of pumpkin puree and 1 Tbs. of plain yogurt, dab onto spots, let sit for 10 minutes, then rinse. Acids in the pumpkin break down discolored skin cells to reveal new skin, plus its vitamin C helps brighten and the yogurt gently exfoliates for glowing results.
Cure your dog’s upset tummy.
Every time you hit the road with your pup, poor Buster gets queasy! Treat his nausea with pumpkin treats! To make: Mix 3⁄4 cup of plain canned pump-kin, 1 cup of old-fashioned oats, 1⁄4 cup of water and 1 ⁄4 tsp. of ginger; form into small balls (1 ⁄2″ in diameter for small dogs, 1″ for larger dogs) and refrigerate overnight and for up to a week. Feed to your pup 30 minutes before you get in the car. The pumpkin and ginger will settle his tummy.
Ensure garden blooms thrive.
Instead of tossing a pumpkin that’s seen better days, use it to enrich your blooms! Simply chop it into small pieces, dig shallow holes in the garden soil and add the pumpkin. Then cover the holes again. As the pumpkin breaks down, it will provide nutrients that will benefit your plants.
Keep party drinks ice-cold.
If you don’t have an ice bucket for your Halloween get-together, repurpose a jack-o’-lantern into a cooler! Just set the pumpkin on a table, put a clear plastic bowl inside, add bottles and cans and fill with ice. Post-party, return the jack to your front steps!
Entertain little ones for pennies.
Keep the cuties in your life busy with DIY pumpkin slime! To do: Cut the top off of a pumpkin, then loosen the seeds and flesh, leaving them inside the gourd. Next, mix of 1 ⁄2 cup of room-temperature water and 1 ⁄2 cup of white washable glue (like Elmer’s) in a separate bowl. Pour 1⁄4 cup of liquid starch into the pumpkin, followed by the glue mixture. The kids will have a blast playing with the gooey slime right inside the pumpkin.
Welcome birds to your yard.
Nothing brightens your day more than seeing birds fluttering about in your yard. A secret to draw them in: When you’re carving your pumpkin, set aside a handful of seeds and place them on a tray feeder or put them on a dish and leave it outside. The birds will flock to the seeds, which provide energy-boosting nutrients.
Freshen up your home for less.
There’s no need to buy chemical-laden air fresheners to outwit unpleasant odors. Instead, simply rub your favorite spice on the inside of a carved pumpkin, then place a tea light in the bottom of the pumpkin. When you light the candle, the heat will release the scent of the spice and the pumpkin, infusing your home with a fresh autumnal fragrance.
Ward off anxiety in a blink.
On mornings when your to-do list seems endless, it’s easy to feel stressed and anxious. What can help: Snack on a handful of pumpkin seeds! Research shows that eating the seeds can help lower heart rate and reduce anxiety. The secret lies in the seeds’ tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts into the feel-good brain chemical serotonin, warding off stress and anxiety.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.