Monday, October 25, 2010

#489: Pumpkin Seeds

So I carved a Jack o' lantern the other day.  First time I've done that in years.  It was fun.  Here's how it turned out:

You can't see it here, but he's got a long curvy stem coming out of the top.
(Jack o' lantern and photo by the Apple Lady)

But the thing I want to talk to you about is pumpkin seeds.  You can roast 'em and eat 'em.

Pumpkin seeds, husk on, prior to roasting
(Photo from

  • While you're carving your pumpkin, separate the seeds from the pumpkin goo as much as possible.
  • Rinse the seeds really well in a colander and pick out the stringy innards and other pumpkin what-not from among the seeds.
  • Dry the seeds the best you can.  Blotting them with a paper towel will get some of the water off. Putting them in a pan on top of the stove while you heat the oven will help dry them out some too.
  • Spread out the seeds in a pan with maybe a tablespoon or so of your favorite margarine/butter/cooking oil, and salt generously.
  • Bake in a 300 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, depending on how wet the seeds are to begin with.  The drier you can get them ahead of time, the less time it'll take to roast them.
  • Stir them around the 10 to 15 minute mark to make sure they're not sticking to the pan.
  • When they're crunchy, they're done.

Pumpkin seeds, husk on, post roasting. I'm eating some of my roasted seeds right now.
(Photo from Life's Ambrosia)

Pumpkin seeds make for a nice alternative to salty crunchy snacks like peanuts or potato chips or tortilla chips.

Even more than that, pumpkin seeds are good for you in a lot of ways:
  • They have most of the B vitamins (stuff like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid).
      • This means they'll help your body metabolize your food, process and regulate cholesterol, aid in the production of certain amino acids, strengthen nerve sheaths, assist in formation of red blood cells -- all essential things that basically help your body keep going
      • Deficiencies of the B's can lead to chronic fatigue, depression, dementia, insomnia, and weird diseases like beri beri and pernicious amnesia.
  • Pumpkin seeds are also fairly high in potassium and calcium.
      • Calcium, as we know, is important to maintaining bone strength. It also may help in reducing the symptoms of PMS.
      • Potassium helps in the regulation of blood pressure, is important to the function of your heart, kidneys, and liver, it helps regulate the body's fluid levels, supports muscle tone, and is important to maintaining mental function.  
      • If you're lacking in potassium, you might feel weak, get crampy or lots of muscle twitches, irregular heartbeat, you might develop kidney or liver problems, or you might get depressed, mentally confused, have trouble sleeping.
  • Alcoholics, you'll want to eat up your pumpkin seeds because alcohol depletes the body's reserves of the B's and potassium.
  • Pumpkin seeds also contain L-tryptophan, that stuff everybody talks about at Thanksgiving, and which is helpful in combating depression.
  • Some people think that pumpkin seeds help resolve bladder and prostate issues.
  • Many people also think that pumpkin seeds help reduce cholesterol.

Pumpkin seeds without the husk, also called pepitas. They're used a lot in trail mixes.
(Photo from Nuts Online, which sells raw pumpkin seeds for about $5.25/lb)

There's gold in them thar pumpkin guts -- the seeds!
(Photo from Brad's Gallery on Picasa)

You might also be interested in my entry on pumpkins.

Jason Earls, The Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds, Health.Learninginfo
Dr. Jerry Gordon, How B Vitamins Work, TLC
WebMD, Live Well Vitamins & Lifestyle Guide, Calcium, Potassium
Charlene Nuble, Potassium and Its Benefits to the Human Body, ezine articles

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