It’s officially autumn. Kids are back in school, leaves are falling, and winter squash are starting to line the grocery store shelves. Acorn, butternut, spaghetti, delicata… regardless of your favorite, the pumpkin is one not to ignore.
It’s easy to wax poetic about all the various benefits of pumpkin squash, but this piece will focus on just one: the seeds.
Pumpkin seeds provide a wealth of nutritional properties: they are high in inflammation-reducing antioxidants, they are rich in minerals like magnesium, zinc, and iron, and they are a fantastic source of fiber (particularly if you eat the shells).
Now, how to properly roast pumpkin seeds is a matter of some debate that really ranges based on how much water content you allow the seeds to take in. Here are 3 common methods of going about the roasting process:
Method 1: Boiling and Soaking First
For this method, put your pumpkin seeds in a bowl of water overnight and then drain well before roasting the seeds. Many people add salt to their water as a pre-seasoning, but with health in mind, we suggest doing so sparingly.
Method 2: Simply Rinse and Dry
This method is great for last-minute preparation. Simply rinse your seeds well in a colander and then lay them out on a cooking sheet or some towels to dry. Once they are dry, you are ready to roast!
Method 3: Leave Some of the Sticky Goo to Impart Sweetness
For this method, rinse your seeds less thoroughly or skip that step altogether to allow for some pulp to remain on the seeds. In this case, you will want to keep a close eye during baking, as the pulp is liable to burn sooner than the seed itself.
We recommend using extra-virgin olive oil for your pumpkin seed roasting. Extra-virgin olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which is particularly important regarding prostate cancer. Adding salt will amplify the flavor, but it is important to be mindful and only add as much as your blood pressure allows.
In honor of fall, and pumpkins, Halloween and your microbiome, here are two recipes.
Ingredients: The seeds of one pumpkin, 1-2 tablespoons of EVOO, salt to taste.
1. Preheat oven to 375oF.
2. Remove as much pulp as possible from the seeds.
3. Rinse under cold water.
4. Dry the seeds with a towel.
5. Toss in a bowl with olive oil and salt.
6. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet in a single layer.
7. After 20 minutes, check the seeds and toss around.
8. Cook another 10-20 minutes, checking every 5 minutes to ensure the seeds are golden but not brown. It’s a fine line between cooked-to-perfection and burnt!
9. Let cool before enjoying.
YUM! Eat the whole seed for extra microbiome-healthy insoluble fiber.
Pumpkin Seed Pesto
• ½ cup roasted pumpkin seeds
• 2 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled
• 1 ½ cups fresh basil leaves
• 2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
• Salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
1. For an easy vegan twist, skip the parmesan.
2. If your appliance won’t blend well, add water, one tablespoon at a time.
3. Stores for up to 1 week in your refrigerator.
4. Use as a condiment for sandwiches, soups, and pastas.