Pumpkin Seeds – also known as pepitas – are one of those things that I always forget about, suddenly remember how healthy they are and “why don’t I have any on hand?”, prepare them, and then can’t believe I forgot how amazing they taste!
Pumpkins seeds are touted for containing high amounts of zinc and magnesium as well as vitamin E and protein. What does this mean for you and your kids? Zinc is great for many things, but heading into the school year I’m singing its praises as an immune booster. Magnesium is well known for its calming effects…your child’s teacher will praise you for this, and protein keeps bellies full longer so it makes a great snack.
How do you make them so scrumptious that your kids will not be able to say no to this nutritious snack? The key to unlocking the taste and health benefits is in the soaking so don’t skip this step…
Step 1: Soak seeds overnight (but no more than 24 hours) in room temperature water with a teaspoon of salt.
Step 2: Rins and pat dry. Combine with choice of oil and seasoning in a bowl. (See below for some suggestions). Coat seeds in mixture.
Step 3: Spread seeds one layer deep on parchment paper covered cookie sheet.
Step 4: Bake at 250-275 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes or until seeds start to turn a golden brown. Stir seeds every 10-15 minutes.*
Enjoy as a snack, over salads or cereal, or throw them in a lunchbox!
A Few Seasoning Combination Ideas (based on 1 cup of seeds used):
1) Cinnamon and Brown Sugar: 1 Tbsp butter (melted) + 1 tsp brown sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon + dash of sea salt
2) Sea Salt and Pepper: 1 Tbsp coconut oil (melted) + 1 tsp sea salt + 1/2 tsp pepper
3) Chili & Lime: zest of 1 lime + juice of 1/2 a lime + up to 1 Tbsp chili powder (depends on how spicy you want it) + 1/4 tsp sea salt
* This step is even better when done at a lower heat to preserve the nutrients – at 165/170 degrees – but many ovens don’t go this low anymore. Some studies say roasting above 200 degrees and more than 20min will damage some of the delicate oils in pumpkin seeds but on the other hand you won’t get the amazing nutty flavor. I find it hard to get the seeds to dry up and taste good in my (less than ideal) oven at temps lower than 200 degrees and less than 20 minutes.