Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

25 10 2013

IMG_7944I carry on my childhood tradition with my children of carving our pumpkins every autumn in the week before Halloween. They sketch ideas of faces onto paper, choose their favorites, and draw them onto their pumpkins with washable markers. The pumpkin seeds and pulp inside must be removed before these faces are carved into the squash, bringing each pumpkin to life. Gutting pumpkins is a messy and festive process. If you include children, they will get their arms covered in orange slime. Plan accordingly. Aprons, paper towels, and wet wipes save clothing, skin and work surfaces. Monster Mash music sets the tone nicely—especially if mom dances around to it!

Before you begin, place the pumpkin on newspapers or a drop cloth of your choice to protect your surface and easily clean up. Cut a circle on the pumpkin’s top, around the stem, that is large enough for your hand to pass through. Set the top aside. Scrape the entire inside of the pumpkin with a large, sturdy spoon. Spoon all seeds and pulp into a large bowl until the inner walls of the pumpkin are rough and non-slimy. Separate pumpkin seeds from pulp and transfer the seeds to a separate bowl, leaving some strings of pulp on the seeds. This adds even more flavor; no need to rinse or dry the seeds. Mix in ingredients and roast. My roasted pumpkin seed recipe makes a salty, nutty-flavored snack that can be refrigerated for months. They also keep well in the freezer.

Pumpkin seeds contain protein, fiber, and anti-inflammatory qualities. They provide L-tryptophan for better sleep and reduced depression, phytosterols for lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol, and may improve insulin and decrease oxidative stress in diabetics. Pumpkin seeds supply magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, vitamin K, vitamin E, and the vitamin B-complex group. Pumpkin seeds do not have common allergens or measurable amounts of oxalates or purines.

Some cultures eat pumpkin seeds regularly to prevent or treat intestinal parasites. I was delighted to learn this prevention trick when I was overseas. I love pumpkin seeds anytime of year. (If only I’d been advised to brush my teeth with bottled flat water instead of sparkling water. Carbonation mixed with toothpaste made my mouth foam profusely. The more I rinsed, the more I foamed, making a formidable first impression on locals.) Anyway, buy or grow pumpkin seeds with or without shells depending on your preference. The common Pacific Northwest jack-o-lantern pumpkins yield seeds within edible shells.

Roasted Pumpkin SeedsIMG_7937

Ingredients

  • 2 C unwashed raw, whole pumpkin seeds
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ T melted butter (oil can be substituted)
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  • Combine ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Pour seeds into a single layer onto a large, shallow baking pan. No need to grease the pan since the butter will keep your seeds from sticking.
  • Bake for 1 hour, stirring the seeds occasionally. If you prefer chewier seeds, bake for about 30-45 minutes or for crispier seeds, bake for up to 2 hours.
  • Seeds will roast until crisp, dry and golden.

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