Learn all about the benefits of pumpkin seeds and how to use them, including the perfect way to roast pumpkin seeds.
Consider the pepita. A small, green (if hulled) wonder if there ever was one, packed so full of nutrients, while remaining completely unassuming. Somewhere between sprinkling a salad with them and mixing them into my homemade granola, I’ve become obsessed. Raw, they have the sort of flavor that can only be described as green, completely delicious and healthy tasting. Roasted, they transform into nutty, smokey little numbers perfect for topping pretty much anything, but especially salads. And smoothies. And oatmeal. Oh, and eggs too… But these little seeds of squash (the literal Spanish translation pepita de calabaza) have so much more to offer than taste and texture alone. Today we’re diving in to the health benefits of pumpkin seeds, from their delicious taste to their countless vitamins and minerals. Read on to learn why you should be eating more pepitas for for some tasty ideas on how to use pumpkin seeds, too!
What are they? Pepitas are the edible seeds of the pumpkin and other edible squashes — yes, the same seeds you scoop out and discard when you carve your Halloween pumpkin (don’t throw them away!). While some varieties have been bred to grow without a hull, in nature bright green pepitas are usually encased in a larger white hull which is also edible, making pumpkin seeds extremely versatile however you choose to enjoy them! Pepitas are an excellent source of fibre, protein, and essential vitamins such as iron and zinc and contain a diverse array of antioxidants.
What are the benefits? Pepitas provide a wealth of high-quality nutrients, including protein and fibre — 1 oz. of hulled raw pumpkin seeds contains roughly 7 grams of protein and 5 grams of fibre! Pumpkin seeds also contain high levels of magnesium (about 38% of your daily value in a 1 oz. serving), which has been shown to support heart health by relaxing the blood vessels, supporting elimination, and keeping your heart pumpkin regularly. Pepitas also contain high levels of iron and zinc (23% and 14% of your daily value, respectively). Zinc in particular aids in immune function and helps regulate everything from sleep to mood to the health of your skin, since many Americans are zinc-deficient, that’s all the more reason to sprinkle a few pepitas on your salad or smoothie!
How do I use them? The next time you find yourself scooping the seeds from a pumpkin or squash, be sure to rinse and reserve the seeds; because pumpkin seeds can be eaten with or without a hull and roasted or raw, they’re an incredibly versatile addition to any diet. No squash in sight? No problem. Raw dehydrated pepitas are available in the bulk section of most health food stores.
Use pepitas to…
- Top salads, smoothies, oatmeal and yogurt
- Blend into smoothies for added nutrition
- Replace nuts in recipes
- As added texture in baked goods
- As an addition to trail mixes and granolas
How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup hulled pepitas or fresh pumpkin seeds (with or without hull)
1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee, melted
Salt and pepper
A dash or two of any desired spice (try cumin & turmeric, sugar & cinnamon, or chili pepper)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a small mixing bowl, combine pepitas, oil, salt and pepper, and any additional desired spice and mix to coat the seeds. Spread the seeds evenly on the parchment and bake, stirring frequently, until seeds are golden, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely and store in a cool, dry place.
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