New Tricks and Treats with Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seedsThe jack-o-lanterns are carved and now you face a choice: deal with the pile of gooey mess or dump the guts and move on? NO-don’t dump those pumpkin seeds!

Pumpkin is great for you, but nutritionally, the seeds inside are a special treat. Try these tricks to get all the flavor and health out of your pumpkin, any time of year.

The Scoop on the Seeds

From your Halloween pumpkin, you will probably end up with about a cup of seeds to roast. In reality, that’s not that many, especially if you start munching on them every time you pass by their dish. Careful there—they’re so tasty, they go down effortlessly. And while they’re good for you, moderation is in order.

If we view that one cup is equal to eight 1 oz. servings, here’s how the nutrition plays out: 146 Calories, 4 grams carbohydrate, 12 grams fat and 9 grams protein. Happily, the fats in pumpkins seeds are the health promoting kind, like plant-based Omega 3s, also found in nuts. The seeds are also an excellent source of magnesium, zinc and anti-oxidants – a nutrition profile which is shown to support heart health and a strong immune system.

Eating Clean with Seeds

So now that you have a taste for pumpkin seeds, we need to get them from the pumpkin to your plate (or your palm, realistically).

The simplest method we found calls for putting the seeds with any leftover pulp attached into a large bowl, covering them with water, and letting them soak. Stirring, or spraying with a faucet, helps with the separation process even more.

Most of the pulp will float away from the seeds, and any that remains can be easily rinsed and massaged off in a colander under cool water.

Many people enjoy soaking their seeds again, before roasting. Some folks prefer to boil seeds for ten minutes in salt water. That can cook away some of their health properties, but we know, salted pumpkin seeds is a special treat. If you want to avoid over salting, wait to mix your seasoning and add to the seeds right before you bake them.

Or you can add a bit of salt to a bowl of water and soak your seeds on the countertop for an hour, up to overnight, before roasting them. Be careful, though. A little goes a long way, as the soaking method can inject that flavor deep inside the seeds!

Now pat them dry (ish—they can still be damp) and you’re ready to go.

Straight-up Seeds: Preheat your oven to 175 degrees and season the seeds as needed – a bit of olive oil is optional, as is the amount of salt you choose (if you soaked in salty water, you can skip adding more). Spread the seeds out in an even layer on a baking pan and pop them in the oven. So simple.

Though longer roasting or a higher temperature produced the brown crispy seeds of your childhood, 15 – 20 minutes of roasting at this lower temperature is now recommended for maximum health benefits.

Add Sweetness: Before roasting, drizzle seeds with a bit of liquefied coconut oil, then toss with a mix of a bit of salt, cinnamon and raw sugar.

Add Some Spice: Before roasting, coat seeds with a bit of melted unsalted butter, then toss with a dash of cayenne and salt, plus a tablespoon or so of curry powder. For another flavor profile, try your cayenne and salt plus a spoonful of chili powder.

Add Savory Flavor: Before roasting, drizzle seeds with a bit of olive oil, then toss with a mix of Italian herbs—oregano, garlic and basil works well. Or, roasting with rosemary, salt and pepper offers extra homey flavor to your seeds.

Get Creative: Like Asian flavors? Then try some soy sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, and ground ginger on your seeds. Have any favorite popcorn toppings? They’ll be the perfect pumpkin seed toppings!

Looking for more pumpkin treat ideas? Check out the Healthy Eating seminar at your local XSport on Wednesday, October 29th. See your Fitness Manager for seminar times. More tips and recipes will be shared!

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