How to eat pumpkin seeds
A lot of people eat the flesh of pumpkins but discard the seeds, also known as pepitas. However, not only are these seeds super nutritious, they also taste great and are very versatile. Their colour can vary from cream to green, depending on whether the shell has been removed. Below you will find all the of different ways that you can eat pumpkin seeds.
Eat them raw
The first and most straightforward way is to eat them raw. They can be eaten as a snack, sprinkled over oatmeal or added to yogurt & soups. If eaten raw, it is important to chew the seeds thoroughly so that they are broken down, making them easier to swallow.
Roast them with herbs and spices
The second way to eat them is to roast them in an oven. To do this, scrape the seeds from a pumpkin into a bowl using a spoon and discard as many of the strings of flesh stuck to them as possible. Rinse the seeds with cold clear water until they are clean, dry gently with a paper towel and then spread them evenly over a baking tray.
Next, drizzle the seeds with some olive oil, melted butter or liquefied coconut oil and then sprinkle herbs, spices and condiments of your choosing over them. Some great options include sea salt, chili flakes, paprika, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, garam masala, dried oregano, cajun and ground fennel seeds.
Mix everything together to ensure that the seeds are well coated. Then place the tray in an oven at 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4) for 10 – 15 minutes, until the seeds are light golden-brown in colour. Allow them to cool and then munch away! You can store these roasted pumpkin seeds in an airtight glass container.
Use them in smoothies
Besides fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds are a very common smoothie ingredient and pumpkin seeds blend in very well. You can use both seeds that have been obtained fresh from a pumpkin or those that have been dried beforehand.
To make a smoothie, it is generally recommend that you use one cup of fruits, vegetables and liquid. So for example, you could have a smoothie made of half a cup of frozen berries, one medium sized banana, a cup of spinach and a cup of coconut water. Chuck these ingredients into your blender, add in 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds and process everything for 15 – 20 seconds.
Add them to trail mix
Trail mix is a mixture of dried nuts, seeds and fruit that was originally eaten by hikers to provide a long lasting source of energy. Nowadays everyone enjoys trail mix as a healthy snack.
To make 2 cups worth of trail mix you will need 1/3 cup each of pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, dried apricots and dried cherries. You can replace these with any other nut, seed or dried fruit of your choice, meaning there are lots of different trail mix combinations you can come up with. You can also add in other ingredients such as popcorn and dark chocolate.
Making trail mix couldn’t be easier – simply mix everything up well in a large bowl and then dig in.
Use them in salads
Dried pumpkin seeds add a nice crunch to salads. And as you can imagine, there are hundreds of salad recipes out there, so you are spoilt for choice.
A salad recipe that I found online and really enjoyed eating was made of 1 cup of baby spinach, 1/2 a sliced avocado, 1 apple cut into chunks, 1/4 cup of dried cranberries, a few cubes of feta cheese, a tablespoon of lemon juice, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a tablespoon of honey, black pepper, and of course, 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds.
To prepare the dressing, combine all of the liquid ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a spoon. Combine the other ingredients in another bowl and toss for roughly 30 seconds. Then drizzle with the dressing and enjoy!
Make pumpkin seed butter
Just like how you have peanut butter and almond butter, you can also have pumpkin seed butter. It is not as easy to find in shops, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your own fresh batch at home.
To begin, toast 3 cups of pumpkin seeds in an oven for 15 minutes, until they are golden in colour. Allow them to cool and pour into a food processor.
Hit the process button and allow to puree. The food processor will do a quick job of grinding the seeds into a powder, but turning them into a butter will take a few minutes of continuous processing, until the oil from the pumpkin seeds has been extracted.
Every minute or so, take the top off the food processor and mix everything well with a spatula, then put the lid back on and process further. Continue to do this until you are left with a smooth creamy paste.
Pumpkin seed butter can be used the same way as peanut butter, such as on sandwiches or for dipping apples in.
Make pumpkin seed pesto
You can eat pumpkin seed pesto with pasta, steamed vegetables and baked potatoes. To make it you will need 2 cups of pumpkin seeds, 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 cup of chopped coriander, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking tray and combine with the salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast the seeds for 15 minutes and allow to cool. Then add them together with the rest of the ingredients and 1/4 cup of water to a food processor. Pulse until you are left with a coarse paste.
The health benefits of eating pumpkin seeds
Now that you know about the many ways that you can eat pumpkin seeds, lets briefly talk about the health benefits that they bring.
They are very nutritious
Nuts and seeds in general are packed with lots of vitamins & minerals, and pumpkin seeds are no different. A 28 g serving of dried pumpkin seeds provides you with a large number of nutrients.
– 38% of your daily requirement of magnesium. Magnesium helps to control blood pressure, reduces heart disease risk, maintains healthy bones and is required for the creation of ATP, RNA and DNA. A large number of Americans are deficient in magnesium and pumpkin seeds are one of the best food sources to help prevent this.
– 33% of your daily requirement of phosphorus. There are many food sources of phosphorus and when compared weight for weight, pumpkin seeds are at the very top. This mineral is important for metabolism and nutrient utilization, balancing the body’s pH levels, maintaining energy levels and keeping our teeth healthy.
– 43% of your daily requirement of manganese. It is needed for enzyme & cognitive function and supports respiratory health. Pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of manganese that there is.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are a rich source of vitamin K, iron, potassium, zinc and copper.
Studies have linked them to a reduced risk of certain types of cancer
Studies have found a link between diets rich in pumpkin seeds and a reduced risk of various types of cancer. This study found a reduced postmenopausal breast cancer risk associated with increased consumption of pumpkin seeds.
They can lower blood sugar levels
Animal based studies such as this have found that pumpkin seeds can reduce blood sugar. This is important for people who suffer from diabetes and find it difficult to control their blood sugar levels. This study found an inverse association between magnesium intake and diabetes risk, which may be why pumpkin seeds have this effect on blood sugar.
They may improve your quality of sleep
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan; a 28 g serving provides you with 58% of your daily recommended intake. Tryptophan is thought to help improve sleep quality, so eating foods like pumpkin seeds and bananas before bedtime can be beneficial.
Pumpkin seeds can be eaten in lots of different ways and are definitely recommended because of the many health benefits that they bring.