One of the best rewards during pumpkin season are the seeds. They taste great, can be flavored in multiple ways and are great for snacks and salad toppers.
When you first remove the seeds from the pumpkin, however, it’s kind of a slimy mess. But it’s easy to clean them up.
“Put the seeds, pulp and all, in a big bowl of water. Rub them vigorously with your hands and they’ll clean up fast,” said Tammy Roberts, nutrition specialist for University of Missouri Extension.
Don’t worry if there’s a bit of pulp and string left on the seeds, Roberts said. It will come off easily after the seeds are prepared.
There are several ways to prepare pumpkin seeds. They can be roasted, boiled, dehydrated and even microwaved. Right before preparation, you can use your culinary skills and palate to add any flavor you want.
“That can include cheese you put on popcorn, garlic, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce, thyme and cayenne pepper, or cinnamon, ground ginger and allspice,” Roberts said. “You can also roast them with no salt or flavoring.”
To roast the seeds, spray a cookie sheet with vegetable oil and spread the seeds out in a single layer.
“Lightly spray the tops of the seeds with vegetable oil and add your flavoring, if desired,” Roberts said.
Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes or until the seeds are lightly browned. Pumpkin seeds can also be dehydrated. Place them in a dehydrator at 115 to 120 degrees for one to two hours.
“If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can dehydrate them in the oven,” Roberts said. “Place them in a shallow pan in the oven. Set the oven on warm.”
It takes about three or four hours, she said. Just make sure that you watch the seeds and stir them often to prevent burning.
No matter how you prepare them, pumpkins seeds are a terrific and healthy snack. Roberts said they’re a great source of minerals, protein and monounsaturated fat.
“One ounce of roasted pumpkin seeds — about 140 seeds — provides 148 calories, 9 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber,” Roberts said.
Pumpkin seeds are available year-round, but are at their best during pumpkin season. So don’t throw those seeds away.
Pumpkin Seed Snack Mix
October is the time for pumpkins and pumpkin seeds! This snack mix is perfect for anyone who has a peanut or tree nut allergy because it is nut free. It contains pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds instead of nuts.
Yield: Makes 32, 2-tablespoon size, servings.
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
• 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 2 cups pumpkin seeds
• 2 cups sunflower seeds
• 1 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet until hot; add cumin, red pepper and chili powder. Cook over medium-high heat 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add sugar and honey, and stir until sugar dissolves.
Stir in pumpkin and sunflower seeds; cook, stirring constantly, 8 minutes or until seeds are toasted and mixture smells good.
Carefully spoon seed mixture onto a big piece of lightly greased aluminum foil. Cool completely. Add cranberries, if using. Store seeds in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.
Nutrition Information: Calories: 140. Calories from fat: 74%. Fat: 11.5 g. Saturated fat: 1.5 g. Monounsaturated fat: 2.1 g. Polyunsaturated fat: 3.1 g. Protein: 4.7 g. Carbohydrate: 5.7 g. Fiber: 1.3 g. Cholesterol: 0.0 mg. Iron: 1.6 mg. Sodium: 5 mg. Calcium: 11 mg.