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It’s that time of the year! You are sitting at the table with a large, orange pumpkin in front of you. The carving knives are ready to use, the trash can is nearby for all of the pulp. You cut the top off of the pumpkin and start throwing handfuls of tangled pulp away. You scrape all those slippery white seeds out to make room for a candle. By the end of the carving session, you are left with a spooky jack-o-lantern and a trash can full of pulp studded with white seeds. What is wrong with this picture? You are throwing away the best part!
Pumpkin seeds are a hidden treasure in the world of nutrition. Not only are they delicious, they are rich in several vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin E and zinc. Vitamin E is known to act as an antioxidant, which can help protect the body from certain diseases. Pumpkin seeds also provide protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Even though the seeds contain healthy fats, they pack a high amount of calories into a small serving, so they should be eaten in moderation. A 1/4 cup serving of unshelled pumpkin seeds provides about 180 calories, and nearly 16 grams of fat, 10 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber. Note that choosing to add oil when roasting will increase the fat content.
The easiest way to harvest the seeds is to put all of the inner contents of the pumpkin into a bowl and run water over it to untangle the seeds from the pulp. Once they are rinsed clean of all pulp, the seeds can either be eaten raw or roasted for a different flavor and texture. Depending on how crunchy you want the seeds to be, you may leave them out overnight to dry, or you can pat them dry with a paper towel and roast right away.
The great thing about pumpkin seeds is that you can season them for any kind of craving you may have. You may use a variety of herbs and spices on pumpkin seeds to achieve a salty, sweet, or spicy taste. Use the flavor combination you like best. Roast them by spreading out on a sheet pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until slightly toasted. You can eat the seeds alone as a healthy snack, shell and all for the extra fiber, or crack the white shell open and just eat the green seed inside. They can also be used as a topping on oatmeal, vegetable dishes, salads, and desserts. So, as you carve your pumpkins this year, save as many of the seeds as you can for days worth of nutritious snacks!