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How to turn your pumpkin carving fun into a delicious, nutritious snack with roasted pumpkin seeds!

Posted Nov 04 2010 8:02pm

Usually when carving up your annual jack-o-lantern, you probably scoop out the pumpkin “innards” and toss the whole kit and caboodle, saving only the shell on which to practice your artistic prowess.  But did you know that inside all that goop is a highly nutritious and extremely tasty snack?

While most pumpkins grown for carving aren’t all that great to eat (the insides tend to be a bit stringy), the seeds are full of minerals, healthy omega 3 oils, and contain phytosterols, a heart-healthy compound found naturally occurring in many nuts and seeds that helps to lower cholesterol.

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of zinc, a mineral that boosts your immune system.  U.S. Department of Agriculture studies have shown that zinc is lacking in the diets of 83 percent of American women.

In addition, pumpkin seeds have plenty of other vital minerals, including magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, iron and copper.

When I was a kid, my mom would save the seeds that my brother and I had extracted from our pumpkins and roast them up into one of my all time favorite treats.  I used to look forward to them all year!  And since it’s fall and pumpkins abound at storefronts across the nation, I thought it was high time to share my mom’s roasted pumpkin seeds recipe with you!

Scoop all of the seeds and “goop” out of your pumpkin.  Separate the seeds from the orange pumpkin meat and place them in a strainer.  I usually separate out as many seeds as possible while I scrape the pumpkin and then pick through for the more stubborn seeds once I’m all finished.

Rinse the seeds under a faucet, stirring them up with your hands to get all of the pumpkin meat off the seeds.  Shake them out really well and let drain for about an hour.

Lay out some paper towels, or if you have one, a fine mesh screen, like a tray from an Excalibur Dehydrator.  Spread the seeds in a single layer on your towels or mesh screen.  Make sure they’re not doubled up; you want as many of them exposed to the air as possible.

Let the seeds dry for a day or two.  The more dry they are, the crispier they’ll get when you roast them.  If they’re a little wet, they’ll stay chewy.

Once the seeds are dry, put them into a bowl.  Drizzle some organic olive oil over the seeds and sprinkle on some sea salt.  Toss the pumpkin seeds well, coating them in the salt and oil.

Preheat the oven to about 350 degrees.  This will depend on your oven, so play around with the temperature until you feel like it’s right for you.

Spread the seeds out on a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake for about a half hour, stirring once or twice to make sure they roast evenly.  Shorten or lengthen the cooking time as necessary.  The pumpkin seeds should be slightly toasted looking with brown edges, but not completely brown, or, of course, burnt.

Once your seeds are toasted, pull them out of the oven, let cool, and enjoy a handful as a snack!  They’re also wonderful tossed in salads, and their salty, crunchy flavor makes them an excellent substitute when you’re craving potato chips.

Go try this recipe and leave me a comment here to let me know how you liked it!

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