Seriously? Who would eat seeds out of a pumpkin? Isn’t that like eating watermelon seeds?
Nope. Pumpkin kernels with the shell removed, also called pépitas, are dark green and delicious and they’re available at most supermarkets. I buy mine in bulk. Some people like them raw and unsalted, but the dry-roasted, salted version has similar crunch and flavor to your favorite chips—might be an easy sell for your family. Put a dish in front of your kids when they’re starving for best results. Have them design funny faces with the seeds to get acquainted with this new snack and artistic medium. And keep reintroducing them–they’re delightfully easy to sneak into dishes!
Here are foods that taste great with a pumpkin sprinkle:
- steamed or sautéed veggies
- mashed potato
- scrambled egg
What’s so great about them?
Too many things to list, but I’ll mention a few.
High in Magnesium. Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure, prevents heart disease, maintains bone health and controls blood sugar levels. Studies involving pumpkin seeds have shown improved blood sugar in type 2 diabetics. About 80% of Americans are deficient in this vital nutrient.
High in Zinc. Plentiful in pumpkin seeds, Zinc is an essential trace element and it is essential to your health. It boosts your immune system, fights free-radical damage (and therefore slows down the aging process), helps maintain hormonal balance and assists with skeletal growth and repair. It’s also an anti-inflammatory agent, and plays a beneficial role in fighting heart disease, other chronic diseases and even cancer. Zinc deficiency makes you feel run down and more susceptible to sickness and infections. It compromises healing and even impacts fertility.
Antioxidants. Antioxidants fight inflammation, and inflammation leads to disease. Pumpkin seeds contain huge amounts of antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin E.
Lignans. Lignans are a kind of phytonutrient found in the cells of plants. They have many health benefits, and their role in preventing several cancers, including breast, and prostrate, is being studied. Lignans also benefit brain function and the cardiovascular and immune systems. Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of lignans.
Protein, Fat, and Fiber. The western diet has caused a serious deficiency of fiber in Americans. Foods high in fiber–and pumpkin seeds are one of the highest!–protect against cancer, heart disease, diverticulosis, kidney stones, PMS, and obesity. They also keep your digestive tract healthy by moving foods through efficiently. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in good fats and serve as an excellent source of protein.
Beware of the pumpkin spice craze which has nothing to do with pumpkin seeds or even pumpkins: Popular “pumpkin” products use a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves with some artificial flavors added in. Retailers have introduced holiday themed pumpkin spice products earlier than ever this year to cash in on the holiday hype: Bad-breakfast Pumpkin Spice Cheerios and artery-clogging Krispy Kreme pumpkin spice doughnuts are already out.
And Starbucks is back with their million-calorie sugar injection called Pumpkin Spiced Latte. Just think–if you have one for breakfast you won’t need to eat for the rest of the day! In case you’re interested, here’s what’s in it:
- -Caramel color (an innocent sounding synthetic chemical made with 4-Methylimidazole, which is a carcinogen. They also use it in their syrups and whipped cream)
- -Carageenan, a stabilizer that causes digestive problems and is linked to cancer
- -Milk from factory cows fed GMO corn and soy
- -A colossal dose of sugar. Their Grande contains 50 grams of sugar and this latte is sweeter…
- -Artificial flavors that could be anything (even MSG can be called a natural flavor based on current FDA rules)
- -Preservatives and sulfites. Do you really need those in a fresh cup of flavored coffee?
- -Nothing from a pumpkin
So be discerning in your pumpkin purchases. The seeds are a quick and easily transported snack, they don’t have to be refrigerated, they’re filling, and they pair well with fruit. Bring some along on your next outing!