Pumpkin Seeds: Autumn's Most Overlooked Superfood
Pumpkin is arguably one of the most celebrated flavors of the Fall season. Pumpkin lattes, pies and cookies are among some of October’s favorite treats, but what about one of the most overlooked components of this familiar autumn squash? Its seeds! Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, can be extremely beneficial to our bodies, yet still incredibly enjoyable to eat.
Roasted, blended or baked, pumpkin seeds provide one of the highest sources of plant-based protein (9 grams per 3 tablespoons!). These marvelous seeds are also a great source of amino acids, notably tryptophan, which enhances serotonin production – our “feel good” hormone and precursor to melatonin, the sleep hero! Say hello to a good night’s sleep! Pepitas also contain zinc – crucial to immune system function, and potassium – needed to keep our heartbeats regular and our muscles working properly. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of magnesium, omegas, calcium, manganese and vitamins A, B & E.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy these versatile little seeds and all that they have to offer:
Pumpkin Seed ‘Mylk’
The perfect alternative to dairy or nut milk. Soak 1 cup of raw shelled pumpkin seeds in water overnight, drain, rinse and then put in the blender with 3 cups of filtered water, 2 pitted dates, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt. Blend on high for 60 seconds, then strain through a cheesecloth into an airtight jar (Mason jars are perfect for this!) Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Use your favorite pesto recipe, but replace the pine nuts with pumpkin seeds. Use Manchego instead of Parmesan for a delicious protein-packed Wildatarian-approved sauce.
Pumpkin Seed Smoothies
In lieu of protein powder, throw a handful of shelled pumpkin seeds into your favorite morning smoothie.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss pumpkin seeds (in shell) with melted Kerrygold butter and sea salt for a savory treat, or with melted Kerrygold, ground cinnamon, ginger, clove and nutmeg for a healthy pumpkin spice treat. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 45 minutes or until golden brown. *Note: Use 2 tsp of melted butter per 1 1/2 cups of seeds; and make sure to always roast your pumpkin seeds at a low temperature to preserve all of their nutrients.
Fun Tip for Halloween
Aside from the seeds being an amazing addition to our diets, pumpkins themselves are also a home-decor staple this time of year. Many of us find ourselves carving pumpkins throughout October, which could potentially result in accidental injuries. A great way to avoid this holiday-mishap is to simply paint your jack-o-lanterns! It is important to find a non-toxic paint (like this one), to safely decorate your pumpkins. This creates a fun and danger-free activity for the entire family!
Whether you eat them or paint them, pumpkins and their seeds are the perfect addition to your Wildatarian October. Show us your favorite Wildatarian-friendly pumpkin seed recipe on Facebook and Instagram for a chance to be featured in our stories! Be sure to tag us at @tericochranebeyondnutrition so we can see your creations!
To The Tru Of You,