Showing posts with label pumpkin seed recipe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pumpkin seed recipe. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Save Those Seeds! The Amazing Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

When you’re making pumpkin pie for the holidays, don’t toss the seeds.  Popping roasted pumpkin seeds in your mouth is not only an irresistible crunchy-munchy treat but will also treat your body with a health boost!

Pumpkin seeds

The health benefits of pumpkin seeds

Packed inside the pumpkin seed, or pepitas, you’ll find a cornucopia of goodness for your health, including:
  • Immune system boosters – pumpkin seeds are a a mega-source of zinc. In the shell and roasted, you’ll get about 10 milligrams in just 3.5 ounces.  Keeping you safe from illnesses, such as colds and flu, is a prime benefit of zinc, along with aiding the growth of cells, and regulates insulin levels. The highly bioavailable forms of Vitamin E in the seeds is also a boon to immunity.
  • Diabetes relief –  Some studies using animals show that several forms of pumpkin seeds, including ground, extracts, and pumpkin seed oil help regulate insulin levels by decreasing oxidative stresses.
  • Improved sleep - Pumpkin seeds do double-duty toward improving your sleep and overall sense of wellbeing.  Not only are pumpkin seeds loading you up on the amino acid tryptophan, which turns into serotonin and then melatonin during digestion, but the zinc content also aids in restfulness and mood.
  • Joint pain relief – If you are one of those who have difficulty trying to reduce joint inflammation with drugs because of their many side effects, try pumpkin seeds, which have been shown in studies to be nearly as effective in arthritis pain relief as common anti-inflammatory drugs, such as indomethacin, but without the side-effects.
  • Heart health boosters – According to World’s Healthiest Foods, just a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds gives you 190.92 mg of magnesium, which puts you half way to your RDA of magnesium.  Magnesium aids in blood pressure regulation by relaxing the blood vessels, as well as reducing the likelihood of a sudden cardiac arrest or stroke.  
  • Relief from male & female issues – There are several pumpkin seed benefits just for men, and others just for women.  For men, the zinc in pumpkin seeds boosts prostate health.  The zinc content also helps men with bone mineral density support. A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition involving 400 men over 44 years old identified a clear connection between zinc intake and hip/spine osteoporosis.  For women, studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil, a good source of natural phytoestrogens, appears to elevate good cholesterol (HDLs) while lowering many common menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women.
Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of healthy Omega 3 fats, fiber, manganese, copper, and phosphorus.

To get the most zinc benefit, eat the whole seed, including the shell.  The endosperm layer between the shell and the seed is high in zinc, but is often compromised when shelling the seeds.

Pumpkin soup with seeds

Pumpkin seed recipes and pumpkin seed preparation

The pumpkin seed can be eaten shelled or unshelled; raw, dehydrated, toasted, or roasted.  If the omega 3 oils are your main reason to eat pumpkin seeds, choose raw, as the heat from roasting can destroy some of the healthy fats.  Your second-best option is the low-temperature cooking of a dehydrator, or low-temperature drying in an oven. 
How to roast pumpkin seeds at home
While you can buy roasted pumpkin seeds in stores, they are easy to prepare yourself, which also lets you choose what does or does not go in the recipe.  Here are the steps for a basic recipe:
  1. Remove seeds from the pumpkin.
  2. Remove any excess pulp by washing them.
  3. Spread the seeds evenly on waxed paper.
  4. Dry the seeds overnight. 
  5. Arrange the dried seeds in a single layer on a baking tray.
  6. Optionally flavor your seeds at this point.  Popular seasoning options for pumpkin seeds include salt and butter,  butter and lemon-pepper seasoning, or butter with garlic salt and Worcester sauce.
  7. Roast the seeds in a preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes using a low oven temperature (~75 degrees C).
After you’ve prepared them, keep your pumpkin seeds freshest by storing them in the fridge in an airtight container. They will be at their peak freshness for about four weeks, but remain edible for several months.
Pumpkin seed recipes
Some wonderful pumpkin seed recipes to try out:
To enjoy the benefits of raw pumpkin seeds in a refreshing beverage, here’s a pumpkin seed milk recipe:
  1. Add one cup of pumpkin seeds and five cups of water in a blender.
  2. Blend on high for one minute.
  3. Strain through cheesecloth.
  4. Flavor with a quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract and a little sweetener (Stevia for a low-carb, low-glycemic option, or a tablespoon of maple syrup, agave, or honey).
If you plan to consume the pumpkin seed milk right away, consider substituting some of the water with ice cubes to get that chilled taste.

To learn more about pumpkin seeds, check out this in-depth nutritional profile for pumpkin seeds. To share your favorite pumpkin seed recipes, or to share your tips on pumpkin seed preparation, please use the comments fields below.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkin Carving - A Halloween Tradition

Well, it's that time of year again...fiery red and glittery golden leaves wafting to the ground, the air is crisp and we're starting to see scary ghosts and monsters on front lawns. What would Halloween be without carved pumpkins, large and small, to add that festive touch to our front steps and porches?

Driving through our rain-swept streets, I've seen carvings from the traditional Jack-o-lanterns to some of my favorite celebrities carved into these orange gourds! Pumpkin carving dates back centuries to Ireland and was reportedly brought to America in the 1800's. Regardless of how it came here, it's a part of the Halloween history of decorating that no trick or treating night would be complete without.

largest pumpkin
Spooky pumpkin patterns are a Halloween tradition.

When I was a kid, we just carved triangle eyes and a mouth and that was it. These days, carving is at a whole new level. I saw a pumpkin carved into Jimi Hendrix and one was a scene from Star Wars. Well, I found out there are stencils for cool pumpkin patterns. What makes it even better is that you can download these cool pumpkin templates for free! Pumpkin Masters has some free fun patterns that include easy to follow instructions. Or just search "free pumpkin carving templates" in your browser's search box and you'll find plenty of choices.

Pick a Perfect Pumpkin

Remember, you can buy pumpkins at your local grocery, farmer's market or go to a "pick your own" pumpkin patch. The Farmer's Almanac gives some helpful pointers for picking the best pumpkin for carving:

pumpkin seed recipe
Buy locally grown, buy small or get the
biggest pumpkin they have!
  • Pick a pumpkin with a smooth surface. These tend to look better when carved. However, a few small dents or nicks might enhance your design.
  • Avoid bruised pumpkins as they will decay more quickly.
  • Light colored pumpkins are easier to carve as they are softer.
  • The biggest pumpkin is not always the best pumpkin. Consider your design. Smaller designs need smaller pumpkins, etc.
  • The pumpkin should be flatter on the bottom so it will not roll while carving or holding a candle or light.

 How to Carve

WikiHow has great step-by-step instructions for carving your pumpkin up just right to make a scary Jack-o-lantern or a fun smiling face pumpkin. Basically, you want to make sure the pumpkin is clean and dry before you get started. Then:
  • Carve off the pumpkin top. If your pumpkin doesn't have a pretty flat bottom, carve off a little to make it sit upright and steady.
  • Scoop out the insides, and don't forget to save the seeds. You'll use them later in a great pumpkin seed recipe.
  • Tape your spooky pumpkin stencils to your pumpkins and use a pumpkin carving tool to trace the image onto your pumpkins. Some people are creative and like to draw the picture free hand. 
  • You can purchase a pumpkin carving tool kit for carving your design. These work well, especially if you are carving with your children. Sharp, serrated edged knives can be dangerous when carving any fruit, so put safety first!
  • If you choose to use real candles to light your Jack-o-lanterns, make sure they are not near anything flammable. Battery operated tea lights are a great and safe way to light up your new cool pumpkin carvings.
Pumpkin Seeds

Toasting pumpkin seeds is easy. All you need are the seeds, washed and dried, some olive or vegetable oil and seasoning. Salt and pepper will do, or you can add just about anything from cinnamon to garlic, to make pumpkin seeds recipe unique. There are many ways to cook pumpkin seeds, just use your imagination. They can be seasoned and tossed into a salad, used to decorate pumpkin muffins or cupcakes or even added to your own homemade trail mix. Pumpkin seeds are not only a fun snack but they also have some great nutritional value. Here are a few facts about pumpkin seeds:
  • Pumpkin seeds are also called pepitas.
  • They are rather high in calories, 1/4 cup = 186 calories.
  • They are one of the most healthy seeds available. 
  • Although they are high in calories and most of their calories come from fat, they are high in the heart-health polyunsaturated-fat.
So don't be afraid to eat them, they make a much healthier snack than a candy bar. Ooooohhh did someone say CANDY?????

pumpkin carving tool
Pumpkin display at Indian Walk market in Buckingham, PA


Caroline Carr
Contributing Writer