When you carve a pumpkin for Halloween, don't forget to save the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a valuable source of many minerals, and they're yummy, too! They are a rich source of phosphorus, magnesium and manganese, and a good source of zinc, iron, copper and protein. Although they are somewhat high in fat, eighty percent of a pumpkin seed's fat content is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which are considered the "healthy" fats. They also contain tryptophan, which may help in the treatment of depression, and phytosterols, which help lower cholesterol levels. With all of these potential health benefits, it seems well worth the time it takes to remove them from your jack-o-lantern!
- Remove the pumpkin seeds from your pumpkin. You can choose whether or not to wash them, depending on how much of a pumpkin taste you want. You will need to remove any pieces of pumpkin from them that are larger than a pea, because it will burn when you roast them, which creates a terrible smell! If you leave the seeds wet, they will take longer to roast than if they are dry. For an average size pumpkin, you will have about two cups of seeds.
- Toss the seeds with two teaspoons of melted butter or olive oil. Olive oil is, of course, the healthier choice.
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
- Spread the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle them with salt, to taste.
- Roast the seeds for 45 minutes, stirring them every fifteen minutes. If your seeds started out dry, you will not need to roast them for the full 45 minutes.
- When the pumpkin seeds are golden brown and crunchy, remove them from the oven and let cool slightly. Roasted pumpkin seeds are at their best right from the oven, but they will keep in a tightly covered container for up to one week.
- If you're feeling adventurous, try one of the following variations:
Seasoned Pumpkin Seeds: Replace the salt with a seasoning salt blend. Roast as directed.
Cajun Pumpkin Seeds: Replace the salt with a Cajun seasoning blend and a half-tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.
Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds: Mix equal parts of cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the seeds before roasting.
You can also use roasted pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on salads and soups, in any way that you would use nuts. The only limit is your imagination!