I say this a lot (probably because I love real food so much), but you don’t want to miss out on this. I have an important PSA for you: do not, for the love of all food that is seasonal, nutritious and full of goodness, throw out those pumpkin seeds.
I mean, this time of year you’re probably roasting up a bushel of fresh pumpkin every weekend, right?
Okay, maybe it’s just me. But if you’re carving at least one pumpkin this month, you should read this. With pumpkin seeds, you’ve got all of this nutritional goodness just waiting to be cleaned, oiled, spiced, toasted and devoured.
How can you resist these zinc-laden beauties?
I have talked about pumpkin seeds before in my Chewy Pumpkin Spice Oat Bars recipe and in my Fertility Soup with Lemony Pumpkin Seed Pesto recipe (especially with regard to zinc and its prostate-protective and fertility-boosting benefits), but pumpkin seeds have a few other nutritional bonuses worth chatting about.
In particular, they are a good source of plant-based protein and very high in calcium, phosphorus and iron. They actually contain more iron (by weight) than liver! Pumpkin seeds also contain essential fatty acids, vitamin E and a mix of B vitamins.
From a culinary point of view, pumpkin seeds make a great snack. They’re terrific in snack bars, on top of oatmeal, on top of a slightly warm or wilted salad, on top of smoothies and probably even on top of spaghetti… all covered with cheese! (Apologies to my dairy-free friends, the song was stuck in my head so I had to let it loose).
Here’s how to roast up some of these amazing pumpkin seeds:
2. Place the seeds in a fine-mesh strainer and vigorously rinse them. I find that using a higher water pressure and rubbing the seeds against the strainer helps remove all those lingering stray pieces that tend to cling to the seeds for dear life. If you find that rinsing vigorously doesn’t do the trick, you can remove the squash strands by hand. (For anyone who gets bored easily – like me – this can be tortuous… but I promise the extra effort is worth it!)
3. Once your seeds are clean, lay them out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let them hang out for a bit at room temperature until they’re dry or at least slightly tacky.
4. Preheat the oven to 300 F and while the oven heats up, add the seeds to a small bowl. Add just enough oil to coat. I like oils with higher smoke points like red palm oil, grapeseed oil or refined coconut oil (not extra virgin) in that order. Then add 2-3 tsp of a mix of ground spices, such as black pepper, paprika, chile powder, turmeric, etc. Let your creative cook loose! Add 1/2 to 3/4 tsp sea salt per cup of seeds. Mix everything well. Use your hands if you have to or get your kiddos to help!
It’s true that grapeseed oil does contain higher levels of omega 6 fatty acids, which we want to try to avoid too much of in our diets (hence why it’s not my first choice), but grapeseed oil is often a better option than unrefined coconut oil, which can burn, especially with oven cooking. If an oil burns or you see smoke, the oil has likely been subjected to a temperature beyond its “smoke point”. Past this point it may become unstable and lead to a loss of nutrients and flavour.
5. Once every nook and cranny of your seeds have been dressed with your choice of sublime seasonings, bake the seeds for about 10-12 minutes. Remove them from the oven, stir and lay them out again in a single layer. Cook for an extra 8-10 minutes or just until just toasty and lightly brown. If they’re starting to colour, they should also be crispy, but taste a few to confirm. They can burn quickly so keep an eye on them especially if your oven temperature isn’t accurate.
Hope you enjoy toasting your own pumpkin or squash seeds!
P.S. Have you ever roasted your own pumpkin seeds? What’s your favourite way to eat them?