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All About Pumpkin Seeds

As a child, one of my favorite things to do at Halloween was to eat roasted pumpkin seeds.

After choosing the perfect pumpkin for carving into the scariest jack-o-lantern I could think of, there was the enormous task of cutting the top off the pumpkin and scooping out all the goopy insides.

You know the wet, stringy and slippery pumpkin guts!

Of course the end result would be perfectly roasted and salted pumpkin seeds, perfect for snacking, but getting there does take some effort.

After getting all the slimey pumpkin guts into a bowl, you have to run the raw seeds under running water and work to separate them from the long stringy strands.

Fresh Pumpkin Seeds

Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Once you have just the seeds, you could lay them out to air dry.

And after that, you could season them and roast them and turn them into a delicious snack where you could eat them shell and all, or separate them from the shell and eat only the seeds.

Either way, you end up with a nutritious snack!

Did you know that pumpkin seeds are also known as "pepitas" or "pipián" - in Spanish?

The complete term is "pepita de calabaza" which literally translates to "little seed of squash."

Raosted Pumpkin Seeds

Toasted Pepitas

Nutritional Value of Pumpkin Seeds

According to Wikipedia, the seeds are an excellent source of protein, zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorys, copper, potassium and phytosterols. Phytosterols may help reduce blood cholesterol levels and help decrease the risk for some cancers.

The National Nutrient Database maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests that a 1 ounce serving of whole, roasted pumpkin seeds (about 85 seeds) without salt contains:

  • 126 calories
  • 5.5 grams of fat
  • 5.26 grams of protein
  • 5.2 grams of fiber
  • no cholesterol
  • no trans fat

Pumpkin oil, which can be extracted from the seeds, is also an important ingredient in many cuisines as well as a natural treatment for various ailments in both folk and modern medicine.

It is believed by some to aid irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), help with intestinal parasites and tapeworms, as well helping to improve prostate problems in men.

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Easily prepare and bake/roast your seeds in 4 simple steps:

  1. As soon as seeds are removed from the pumpkin and while they are still moist, run them under cold water and separate the seeds from the pulp.
  2. Arrange the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Sprinkle with salt (and any other spices you like) and bake at 325F degrees for 25 minutes, or until toasted. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  4. Remove from oven and cool, then store in an airtight container.

Favorite Recipes for Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Sweet Seeds

  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds, all pulp removed
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a small bowl, toss raw seeds with melted butter, brown sugar and spices to thoroughly coat. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes at 350F degrees.

Spicy Seeds

  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeks, all pulp removed
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Spread seeds out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with vegetable oil then sprinkle with chili powder, cayenne pepper and salt. Bake for 20 minutes at 350F degrees.