When we think of the quintessential fall fruit, apples come to mind. You may be surprised to learn that pumpkins are a fruit, too; and, some of their seeds each day just might keep the doctor away. According to Health Diaries, pumpkin seeds have been found to fight many health issues, including depression; problems with the prostate, bladder and kidneys; osteoporosis, inflammation, parasites, cancer, low magnesium and high LDL cholesterol.
Like me, you may be taking advantage of the great local farm markets at this time of year synonymous with harvesting. If you live on the west side of Rochester, you can go to Partyka Farms in Kendall and buy pumpkin seeds they have lightly salted and roasted. The seeds are hull-less (shell-like outer layer removed), so they are easier on the teeth and the digestion than regular seeds, which makes them an ideal snack for someone with dentures, braces or diverticulosis. Each six-ounce bag contains about six 1/4-cup servings. Each serving contains five grams of protein, which is a nice alternative to animal protein. If you are following the current Weight Watchers program, this snack has a PointsPlus value of three. If you live on the east side of Rochester, Partyka’s pumpkin seeds are also available at Bauman’s in Webster.
No matter where you live, you can easily roast pumpkin seeds at home like we did when I was growing up. Going the homemade route saves you some money, as well as justifies sticking your hands into all that pumpkin “slime” when helping carve this year’s jack-o’-lantern. Simply place the unwashed seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkle them lightly with salt and bake them in a 250-degree preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. After they cool, place them in the refrigerator in an airtight storage container or bag that is bpa-free, such as those available from Pyrex, Glad and Ziploc.
The crunchy, slightly salty, earthy seeds can be enjoyed alone or used in salads, chicken recipes, dessert recipes and more. If you want to offer something more nutritious than candy to Trick or Treaters, pumpkin seeds are a healthy alternative; however, be sure to seal them in labeled bags so parents are informed of the contents in case a child has a pumpkin or seed allergy or intolerance.
Autumn is a time when we begin to slow down from the hurried pace of summer and prepare for the coziness of the holidays. It is also when we tend to begin overindulging in unhealthy seasonal treats. However, roasted pumpkin seeds are a healthy, seasonal snack that could replace the dish of M ‘n M’s at your next party and not leave even the most ghoulish ghoul feeling deprived.