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New Healthy Food #7

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Pumpkin seed might come to mind only when it's time to carve Halloween jack-o-lanterns and they are usually thrown away, but this is a waste of a very nutritious and fun food. Pumpkin, and squash, seeds were a large portion of the diet of Native Americans and early European settlers, and they are still used in many Mexican dishes. So, why throw away such a tasty and nutritious food?

When scraped out of a pumpkin the seeds should be cleaned of the pumpkin fiber and washed, then dried. They then can be sprinkled with your favorite seasoning, spread on a baking sheet, and baked at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes or until lightly roasted. Or, heat olive or canola oil in a skillet on your stove, add the seeds with some seasoning, and cook while stirring until the seeds are crisp. Once cooled they are ready to eat.

Roasted pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, but contain no trans fat or cholesterol. A cup of seeds has 34 grams of carbohydrates and 12 grams of protein. They are rich in zinc, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and calcium. However, be careful how many you eat as they are very calorie dense with 170 calories in a roasted quarter-cup.

The rich flavor and crunchy texture of pumpkin seeds provide a perfect topping for fresh salad or an addition to baked goods. They can be a very tasty and convenient snack, and can be a distinctive addition to granola, oatmeal, or trail mix.

So, when cleaning out you pumpkin or winter squash, don't throw out those seeds. Roast them for a tasty, nutritious, and fun addition to your healthy diet.