Save Your Pumpkin Seeds: A Healthy Snack
The pumpkin seeds you dig out of your Halloween Jack-o-lanterns can be easily made into a delicious and nutritious snack. So make sure you save your pumpkin seeds and enjoy them for many days after Halloween is over.
Pumpkin seeds are high in nutrients
Pumpkin seeds, which are also known as pepitas, belong to the same gourd family as cantaloupe, cucumbers, and squash. The seeds are dark green and usually encased in a yellow-white shell, although some pumpkins produce seeds without a husk.
Besides being a delicious treat, pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of several minerals. A mere ¼ cup provides manganese (52% of your Daily Value), magnesium (46%), phosphorus (40%), iron (29%), copper (24%), and zinc (17%). In the vitamin department, pumpkin seeds are a very good source of vitamin K (22% DV). You can get more than 8 grams of protein from that ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds, as well as a moderate amount of fiber (1.3 g).
A quarter-cup of pumpkin seeds has about 180 calories and a fair amount of fat, but the fat is largely from the healthy category. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid, which helps reduce levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL).
How to prepare pumpkin seeds
After your remove the seeds from the pumpkin, rinse off the stringy flesh with water. Place the cleaned seeds in a bowl with water and a teaspoon of salt for 30 minutes. Drain the water from the seeds in a colander and spread them on a baking sheet. Spray with cooking oil.
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Sprinkle the seeds with salt, garlic powder, and (if desired) chili powder. Other options include onion powder, cumin, and black pepper. Bake the seeds for about 20 to 25 minutes until lightly roasted.
Pumpkin seeds are good as a snack alone or added to trail mix, or as a topping on salads, sandwiches, or hot or cold cereals. You can use a coffee grinder to grind the seeds and add the coarse powder to ground beef when you make burgers or meat loaf, or add them to a cookie or bread recipe. Ground pumpkin seeds can also be used as a topping on veggies, salads, and cereals.
The spirit of Halloween can last beyond the holiday when you use the pumpkin seeds from your Jack-o-lantern as a tasty treat. Preparing pumpkin seeds is easy and something you and your kids can do together.
Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons