Whether you're prepping a jack-o'-lantern or making a pumpkin pie from scratch, don't even think about tossing those seeds! Pumpkin seeds aren't just delicious when roasted, they're superfoods packed with nutrients, and they make a filling addition to tons of vegetarian meals. If you don't want to dig around in a pumpkin to find the seeds (also called pepitas), you can buy them already cleaned and dried in the bulk section of your grocery store.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
The health benefits of pumpkin seeds are numerous. A 1-ounce serving of whole unsalted pumpkin seeds, or about 85 seeds, contains:
Compared to other seeds and nuts, pumpkin seeds are relatively low in calories and fat. One serving of these seeds contains just 126 calories and 5.5 grams of fat. In comparison, 1-ounce of unsalted sunflower seeds contains 175 calories and more than 16 grams of fat.
Pumpkin seeds also contain phytosterols, chemical compounds that inhibit the body's ability to absorb cholesterol. That means they're heart-healthy as well as delicious!
As a high-fiber, low-fat snack, you can feel good about eating pumpkin seeds regularly. And that's easy to do, because their mild nuttiness complements both savory and sweet foods. Pair them with other organic foods to keep your diet as healthy as it can be. Here are just a few ideas:
If you're using seeds fresh from a pumpkin, remove as much of the orange pulp as you can and pat them dry with paper towels. Toss seeds with just enough melted butter or olive oil to lightly coat them and spread them in a single layer on a foil-covered cookie sheet. Bake them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until they're lightly toasted (about 30 minutes). Sprinkle seeds with sea salt, cinnamon sugar, grated Parmesan cheese or your favorite spice mix.
- More than 5 grams each of fiber and protein.
- Nearly 1/3 of an adult's daily recommended intake of zinc, a mineral crucial to immune system function.
- Vitamin A and small amounts of other minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.
Add pumpkin seeds to a bowl of oatmeal or granola.
This will pump up the protein and fiber in your breakfast or snack! Feeling lazy? The following Nature's Path products already contain pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin Seed + Flax Granola, Pumpkin Spice with Chia Hot Oatmeal, and Qi'a Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed Oatmeal.
Add toasted seeds to a warm, hearty salad.
Roast chunks of pumpkin or butternut squash in the oven along with diced carrots, eggplant and zucchini. Serve the roasted veggies on a bed of lettuce, and top the salad with balsamic dressing and a sprinkling of chopped, toasted pumpkin seeds.
Use them as a garnish to give soups and stews some crunch.
The nutty flavor of pumpkin seeds makes them a natural addition to creamy, slightly sweet soups such as butternut squash soup. You can also add them to veggie chili, thick potato chowder or spicy pumpkin soup.
Substitute pumpkin seeds for pine nuts in your favorite pesto recipe.
Serve the pesto with butternut squash pasta and lots of shaved Parmesan.
Serve these seeds for dessert!
Use them instead of peanuts to make crunchy brittle - a decadently sweet treat! It's a surprisingly simple dessert to make, although you do need to use a candy thermometer. Most recipes call for little more than seeds, sugar, butter and a few seasonings, and you can break off tiny bite-sized chunks to snack on whenever you crave something sweet.
Have some extra time in your day? Check out these must-try pumpkin recipes below:
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