If you've cut open a pumpkin or two to carve a jack o'lantern, don't toss those pumpkin seeds. Toast or roast the seeds in your oven in no time flat.
From a botanical standpoint, pumpkins are considered fruits, not vegetables, because they contain the seeds of the plant. The value of the seeds can be traced back to Native Americans who treasured them for their dietary benefits and medicinal properties -- the seeds were used to treat parasites as well as kidney problems.
Toasted pumpkin seeds can be salted or spiced to suit your palate. The shells are edible and are a good source of fiber. You can also use this toasting method for other seeds, such as those from acorn squash and butternut squash.
Alternate toasting methods include:
- Rinse the pumpkin seeds well. Use your fingers to remove all the pulp.
- Drain the pumpkin seeds and discard the pulp.
- Spread the seeds out on a cookie sheet to dry overnight.
- Heat the oven to 250 F.
- Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil.
- Toss the pumpkin seeds in the olive oil or butter or spray with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper or your choice of seasonings. Toss to coat.
- Bake about 1 hour, tossing every 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
- Cool the pumpkin seeds before eating. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 months or refrigerate up to 1 year.
- If you like your toasted pumpkin seeds extra-salty, soak them overnight in a solution of 1/4 cup salt to 2 cups of water. Dry an additional day, then proceed with step 2 above.
Pumpkin seeds are also known as "pepitas" in Spanish. If you are looking for raw or green pumpkin seeds in the grocery store, you will probably find them under that name.
Pumpkin Seed Serving Ideas
- Add pumpkin seeds to healthy sauteed 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 tasty salad dressing.
- Add chopped pumpkin seeds to your favorite hot or cold cereal.
- Add pumpkin seeds to your oatmeal raisin cookie or granola recipe.
- Next time you make burgers, whether it be from vegetables, turkey or beef, add some ground pumpkin seeds for a healthy kick.
Source: The World's Healthiest Foods