It’s almost Halloween and you know what that means, right? No, not candy loaded with crap but pumpkins full of seeds! My husband and I have a tradition every year where we pick out our favorite pumpkins, carve them with cool faces, scoop out the seeds and then roast them up for a tasty treat.
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are flat seeds, either dark green or white. They are usually malleable and chewy with a subtly sweet and tasty nutty flavor. Like cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber and squash, pumpkins and pumpkin seeds belong to the gourd family.
I had no idea that pumpkin seeds were so nutritious until I started researching more about them. Check this out:
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of zinc in the world, especially in the unshelled form because zinc is concentrated in the layer between the seed and shell, called the endosperm envelope.
Pumpkin seeds also provide lots of Vitamin E and K, are an excellent source of vitamin B group (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folates), as well as an abundance of minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron and copper.
Recent studies on laboratory animals have shown the ability of pumpkin seeds to improve insulin regulation in diabetic animals and to prevent some unwanted consequences of diabetes on kidney function.
Pumpkin seeds have long been valued for their anti-microbial benefits, including their anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.
Pumpkin seeds are unique in their composition of antioxidant nutrients and are associated with decreased cancer risk.
They are also a great source of dietary protein and a tasty option for vegans and vegetarians.
Pumpkin seeds also have a high fiber content. High fiber foods are able to absorb many toxins that may be residing in the colon and help in their excretion.
They are also a great food for men to eat if they want to boost their fertility.
If that wasn’t enough. pumpkin seeds are the most alkaline-forming seed in the world!
The pumpkins we carved. Can you guess which one is mine?
Of course, as with most foods, it’s best to either scoop seeds from a pumpkin and roast them yourself. If this isn’t possible, make sure to purchase organic and raw pumpkin seeds to avoid potential contaminants. To store the seeds, keep them in a glass airtight container in the refrigerator.
Not sure how to use them? Here are a few quick serving ideas:
- Add pumpkin seeds to healthy sautéed or steamed vegetables.
- Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of mixed green salads.
- Grind pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro leaves. Mix with olive oil and lemon juice for a zesty salad dressing.
- Add chopped pumpkin seeds to your favorite hot oatmeal or cold cereal.
- Eat them raw as a quick and easy snack.
As usual, a word of caution. Pumpkin seeds are high in calories so enjoy them in moderation.
Roasted and Seasoned 🙂
If you want to roast your own seeds, here are 4 simple steps:
1 – Scoop the seeds out of the pumpkin and rinse them under cold water. Try to pick out the pulp and strings, what I like to call pumpkin guts. Pat try with paper towel.
2 – Place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Massage some oil onto seeds as well. My favorite is coconut oil.
3 – Sprinkle with salt and bake at 325 degrees F until toasted, about 25 minutes, checking and stirring after 10 minutes.
4 – Let cool and then begin munching!
If you want to get creative, try using other herbs and spices. I like to use Himalayan sea salt, cayenne pepper and a drizzle of agave for a salty, spicy, sweet treat!