As you carve your Halloween jack-o’-lantern this year, throw out the pulp, but be sure to keep the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are an easy, inexpensive way to add a nutritious boost to your trail mix, baked goods, and granola. One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains around 5 grams of protein.
For ease in separating the pulp and strings from the seeds when carving, place seeds and pulp in a bowl of water. If the pulp starts to dry out, it is more difficult to remove it from the seeds. Once seeds and pulp are separated, rinse the seeds well.
To roast seeds, place them in a new bowl. Sprinkle with your favorite seasonings and oil (suggestions below), and mix well. Next, spread them evenly over a large baking tray. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 20 minutes or until lightly brown. Stir the seeds frequently to avoid burning. Cool pumpkin seeds, then store them in an air-tight container.
When choosing a seasoning for your seeds, the options are many, depending on the flavor you desire. The outer part of the pumpkin seed can be removed (hulled) after roasting. The inner part is a green color and is a great addition to breads and muffins.
Consider these five ways to use pumpkin seeds:
—Traditional roast. When using this method, try different spices to give your seeds flair. Here are some combinations:
Cinnamon toast pumpkin seeds: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil.
Chili pumpkin seeds: 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon tamari, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt to taste.
Spicy pumpkin seeds: ½ teaspoon paprika, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil.
Ginger zest pumpkin seeds: 2 tablespoons ground ginger, 2 tablespoons sugar, ½ teaspoon orange zest, 2 tablespoons melted butter or oil.
Parmesan pumpkin seeds: ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons melted butter or oil.
—Pumpkin seed pesto. Making a traditional pesto with pine nuts can be pricey, but not when you use pumpkin seeds. Try this recipe: 2 cups hulled (green) pumpkin seeds, 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 3 cloves garlic, 1 cup fresh cilantro and ¼ cup water. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Cover and chill until ready to use.
—Add them to trail mix or granola. If your granola or trail mix recipes call for nuts, reduce the portion of nuts and add pumpkin seeds for the remaining portion.
—Add them to baked goods or use in brittle. Instead of making a nut brittle this year, substitute hulled pumpkin seeds to make a new fall favorite.
—Garnish soups, salads, and desserts. Add a little extra crunch to any meal by topping your dish off with pumpkin seeds.