Savory Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Last year when we visited Miller Farms’ Fall Festival, I was surprised my 8-year-old couldn’t wait to get his hands on as many acorn squash as we were allowed to bring home.
Cool! I thought. This kid loves vegetables!
And he does (you should see him devour homemade kale chips), but that wasn’t the reason he was asking for acorn squash. It turns out he wasn’t dreaming of Nuts & Bolts Squash paired with baked pork loin like I was. He wasn’t imagining trying different spice blends on each half of the squash to test out which one we liked better.
Nope; he was thinking of the seeds inside.
I like to think of myself as a use-every-part-of-the-vegetable person. You know: add the leafy part of celery to chicken stock for soup; never peel potatoes (the skin has all the nutrition!); gather up the inedible parts of vegetables and add to the compost pile (okay, I’m still trying to convince Patrick to get on board with that idea).
As such, one day when I was roasting butternut squash I couldn’t bring myself to discard the seeds inside. Instead, I tossed them with a little oil, added a dash of salt and sprinkle of spices, and threw them in the oven.
I brought them to Jonah and he couldn’t get enough. Now I’ll never be able to throw out the seeds again.
Luckily for all of us, this treat is not only a great way to avoid food waste, it’s also a really healthy savory treat.
A Tasty Crunch
Food confession: I love chips. I’m generally a more-salt-the-better kind of snack person, and chips/crackers/salty snacks are a special treat for me. Unfortunately, they’re not exactly a “fuel food” and so should be eaten in moderation.
One of my strategies for balancing “fuel food” and “soul food” is to try to mimic the flavors I’m craving in creative, slightly healthier ways. For example, here are some of my favorite salty/crunchy snacks I use in place of chips:
Baby carrots & lite ranch
Bell peppers & hummus
Popcorn (3 cups popcorn has the same calorie amount as 15 potato chips, but contains more fiber because it’s a whole grain!)
Cucumber slices with salt
Radishes with lime juice, salt, & cilantro
Pumpkin seeds offer a lovely chewy crunch and can be seasoned in a variety of creative ways so you never get bored!
Macronutrients, that is. Few salty snacks boast a high protein-punch with a low-calorie price tag, but pumpkin seeds are a unique exception. Compare the following savory snacks: potato chips, almonds, and pumpkin seeds. Especially notice calories, total carbs, fiber, and protein:
1 oz. Potato Chips
1 oz. Almonds
1 oz. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain as much protein as almonds per ounce, but are lower in calories than both chips and nuts. While almonds and other nuts are really healthy, they contain lots of (healthy) fat which makes them a sneaky source of calories. If you need a salty pick-me-up, seeds can be a great way to curb your craving without overdoing your calorie needs.
Though they be but small, they are mighty.
Pumpkin seeds contain iron, calcium, and selenium, but are most known for their high content of zinc and magnesium. These and other squash seeds are among the best sources of magnesium, a nutrient linked to lowering blood pressure and potentially lowering blood sugar levels.
Because they also contain lots of fiber and heart-healthy fat, these seeds will slow digestion and thus help keep you full longer - meaning less hunger between meals.
Don’t you love finding tasty foods which are good for your body and your soul?
Without further ado, go carve a pumpkin and save those delightful seeds. Rinse them thoroughly to get as much of the slimy squash innards off of them. Toss one cup of pumpkin or other squash seeds with a tablespoon of olive oil and a mixture of salt, chili powder, cumin, cilantro, and a pinch of cinnamon.
Spread evenly in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, no more than one seed deep; if you try to fit too many into your dish, they won’t dry evenly.
Slide them into the oven and back at 300 degrees, stirring every 20-ish minutes, for 40-60 minutes. Keep checking on them periodically; you want the seeds to dry, but pull them out before they start to brown. Once cooled, store them up to a month in an airtight container (although the ones at our house have never lasted that long).
Savory Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 c. pumpkin or other winter squash seeds
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cilantro
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Rinse squash seeds thoroughly to remove slimy squash innards
Toss with oil and seasonings, then spread evenly in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, no more than one seed deep
Bake at 300 degrees, stirring every 20 minutes, for 40-60 minutes until seeds are dry but not yet browned.
Store in airtight container for up to a month.
Serves 8 - Serving Size 2 Tbsp. - Nutrients per serving: 177 calories -- 15g total fat -- 4g saturated fat -- 0g trans fat -- 0mg cholesterol -- 82mg sodium -- 4g total carbohydrates -- 2g fiber -- 0g sugar -- 18g protein