Pepitas ~ Pumpkin Seeds ~ Not just for Halloween Anymore
Pepitas ~ Pumpkin Seeds ~ Not just for Halloween Anymore

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things about Halloween is eating roasted pumpkin seeds, otherwise known as pepitas, after the pumpkins have been carved.

Thanks to stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, however, you can now buy hulled pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, year round.  This is especially good news because pumpkin seeds are among the few foods that increase in nutritive value as they age.

Pepitas ~ Pumpkin Seeds ~ Not just for Halloween Anymore 3
Pepitas ~ Pumpkin Seeds ~ Not just for Halloween Anymore 3

According to tests made at the Massachusetts Experimental Station, squash and pumpkin seeds stored for more than five months show a marked increase in protein content.

Pumpkin seeds are very high in minerals and phyto-nutrients.  They are a very good source of bone-building phosphorus, magnesium and manganese, immune-supporting zinc and copper, and energy-producing iron. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of muscle-building protein and healthy fats.

Pepitas ~ Pumpkin Seeds ~ Not just for Halloween Anymore
Pepitas ~ Pumpkin Seeds ~ Not just for Halloween Anymore

Something to keep in mind when you are noshing on your delicious roasted pepitas, however, is that while they are healthy and full of nutrients, toasted pumpkin seeds are also high in calories (360 calories per half cup).  Since they are more addictive than potato chips, I recommend portion control.

I either sprinkle them on my salad when I want to bring a little depth and earthiness to a vegetarian recipe or, instead of cooking a piece of meat or fish as a protein course, I’ll put a half cup or so of roasted pumpkin seeds in a little dish and eat them one at a time, like grapes.

Here’s an easy recipe for a healthy, high protein snack followed by more detailed nutritional information about pumpkin seeds

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds/Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:

Pepitas ~ Pumpkin Seeds ~ Not just for Halloween Anymore
Pepitas ~ Pumpkin Seeds ~ Not just for Halloween Anymore

Add a teaspoon of your favorite fat to a heavy bottomed frying pan (I like butter. If you would like to make this a vegan recipe, you can use olive oil, grapeseed oil, etc…)

Pepitas ~ Pumpkin Seeds ~ Not just for Halloween Anymore
Pepitas ~ Pumpkin Seeds ~ Not just for Halloween Anymore

Sprinkle in your shelled pumpkin seeds

Turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until the pumpkin seeds start to brown

Pepitas ~ Pumpkin Seeds ~ Not just for Halloween Anymore!
Once most of the seeds have turned light brown and begun to puff up, sprinkle them lightly with saltEmpty your pan, rinse out the salt, wipe dry
If you are using a cast iron pan, wipe a drop of oil around your pan. You now have a perfectly seasoned pan!

Enjoy!

Marsya

Nutritional Facts & Health Benefits
Pumpkin seeds:

  • Are filled with lots of minerals including phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron and copper.
  • Improve with age –
  • Are a good source of vitamin K. According to tests made at the Massachusetts Experimental Station, squash and pumpkin seeds stored for more than five months show a marked increase in protein content
  • Contain phytosterols, compounds that that have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol.
  • Contain L-tryptophan, which helps with good sleep and lowering depression. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin and niacin. Serotonin is also very helpful in helping us to have a good night’s sleep.
  • Are high in zinc, making them a natural protector against osteoporosis. Low intake of zinc is linked to higher rates of osteoporosis. In a study of almost 400 men (age from 45-92) published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition they found a correlation between low dietary intake of zinc, low blood levels of the trace mineral and osteoporosis at the hip and spine.
  • Are a good source vitamin E; they contain about 35.10 mg of tocopherol per 100 g.
  • Are the most alkaline-forming seed.
  • Are an excellent source of vitamin B group (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folates).
  • Contain good quality protein. 100 g seeds provide 30 g.
  • According to studies, pumpkin seeds prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation.
  • Reduce inflammation for arthritis without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Are used in many cultures as a natural treatment for tapeworms and other parasites.
  • Are good for prostate health! The oil in pumpkin seeds alleviates difficult urination that happens with an enlarged prostate.
Pumpkin Seeds*
0.25 cup ~ 32.25 grams ~ 180.28 calories

Nutrient

Amount

DV (%)

manganese

1.47 mg

73.5

tryptophan

0.17 g

53.1

magnesium

190.92 mg

47.7

phosphorus

397.64 mg

39.8

copper

0.43 mg

21.5

protein

9.75 g

19.5

vitamin E

10 mg

83.3

zinc

2.52 mg

16.8

iron

2.84 mg

15.8

(source: The World’s Healthiest Foods)

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