Pumpkin Seeds: A Fall Food Full of Flavor

Story by Ashley Shafer
Photos by Anne Langan

Fall flavors are eagerly anticipated all year, and for good reason. Creamy pumpkin spice lattes and warm apple cider are just part of the season’s palate.

Every year, we overlook one the most nutritious foods of the season – pumpkin seeds.

Repurpose the Seeds in the Pumpkin Pulp
When carving pumpkins, the easy thing to do is throw its cold, orange, slimy guts and seeds into the garbage.

This year, we challenge all of you college students who daringly carve pumpkins (in hopes they won’t get smashed) to take the time to dig through the gooey mess and harvest the seeds for roasting. This will give your pumpkin carving experience an alternate purpose.
screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-6-43-14-pmBenefits from Eating Seeds
Pumpkins aren’t just good for jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pies – the several hundred seeds buried inside can provide you with a tasty treat that will last all month.

Not only does saving the seeds reduce waste and offer more than what you paid for, but each tiny pumpkin seed is also packed with nutrients like zinc and magnesium. Candy corn and caramel apples can’t beat the health benefits that pumpkin seeds hold.

Magnesium helps keep bones strong, and maintain normal nerve and muscle function.

Zinc assists in function of over 100 enzymes and helps support the body’s immune system. Immune health is more important than ever with the cold and flu season just around the corner, and germs can quickly spread from being in close proximity to other students all day long.

However, the health benefits don’t stop there. Pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can help produce serotonin. This could ultimately promote healthy sleep patterns and also plays a role in regulating anxiety, depression and stress.screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-6-47-54-pmSo if we haven’t given you enough reasons to save your pumpkin seeds, we’ll give you one more – they are ridiculously easy to roast. All you need is an oven, a baking sheet, any type of cooking oil and some spices.

How to Roast

  1. Before you do anything, it is important that you clean all of the pumpkin pulp off of your seeds. Use a colander to rinse them, or toss them by hand.
  2. To prep the seeds, you will want to soak them in water for 5-10 minutes or even boil them in hot water. While this may seem a little odd, it is an essential step if you want crispy, irresistible seeds. It will also help you separate the pumpkin pulp from the seeds.
  3. Next, drain the seeds and shake them dry. Then, throw them into a bowl and season with oil and spices of your liking.
  4. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Evenly spread the seeds onto the baking sheet, being careful not to overcrowd them.
  5. Pop them in the oven and make sure to “stir” them occasionally to avoid burning or sticking to the pan. When you notice they have no more wet spots and are crisp, allow them to cool, then enjoy.

Fill a small baggie for the perfect on-the-go snack between classes.

Different spice combinations to try:
Brown sugar

Garlic powder

Lime zest
Cajun seasoning or chili powder