Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wholesome Wednesdays: Pumpkin (Squash) Seeds

I just love toasted pumpkin seeds. My aunt and uncle in law were generous enough to give us a lovely squash from their California organic garden this Thanksgiving. Not a sweet pumpkin, but looking much like a pumpkin - i'm not sure what variety of squash it was. I cut up the flesh one night to make some yummy roasted pumpkin with coconut curry seasoning and saved the seeds to top a delicious seasonal meal, only possible here in crazy Austin:     I have winter greens and tomatoes ripe at the same time. What a fluke! So last night i made one of my favorite meals: pesto greens using broccoli leaves (yes, broccoli leaves are totally edible AND delicious! Don't let them go to waste after you've harvested the last of their crowns) tomatoes, tofu and frozen pesto plus some of that delicious green tomato juice drained off of my green tomato relish.

Toasting pumpkin seeds is very easy and i try to always use up the seeds inside any winter squash for this healthy and delicious snack. This particular squash had really nice, plump seeds that jumped about in the pan like Mexican Jumping Seeds when they were done. (400 degrees for about ten minutes, set your timer in 3-5 minute increments and stir to prevent burning).

World's healthiest foods has a really great in depth article on pumpkin seeds. Check it out. As a quick overview, pumpkin seeds:
  • May promote prostate health
  • May protect men's bones
  • Have tons of magnesium and zinc and other important minerals, plus a ton of protein
  • Lowers cholesterol
Pumpkin seeds have lots of health benefits, and are a great source of minerals and protein. Most stores sell them already roasted, or mixed into trail mixes. But as with most prepared foods, it's best and most healthful if you make them yourselves. Fresh food is healthy food and roasting your own seeds takes no time at all and offers the highest level of nutrition without any preservatives or questionable expiration date present in bulk food bins or packaged foods.

Preparation tip: The most irritating thing about preparing squash seeds is separating them from the membranes. How i do it: I place the pile of seeds with membrane in my pasta strainer. Rinsing with water i get most of the goo off, then manually pinch little handfulls of seeds off the membrane, tossing it into the compost pail.  A little membrane won't hurt your seeds and will actually add to the flavor. Dry the seeds for a day or so on a non fuzzy kitchen towel. Voila, ready to toss with your favorite seasonings!

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Thank you so much for your feedback, especially if you've cooked one of my recipes or tried one of my tips: let me know how it turned out!