Are you the type to crave a snack multiple times a day? Throw away all fried potatoes or tortilla chips. Here is a healthy option for your snacking. Nutritious superfood, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are a crunchy, healthy and highly addictive snack which is delicious and will satisfy your craving.
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I first discovered pepitas when I went with my husband (boyfriend back at that time) to watch a football game at a stadium. It is a great tradition in Slovakia to eat roasted pumpkin seeds during the football match. There were several booths selling it before the match and everybody was just watching football, enjoying the great atmosphere and eating roasted pumpkin seeds. The booths sold various flavours so there was a competition too. I remember tasting several flavours from spicy chilli and salty to various herbal combinations. I thought to myself what a great snack idea rather than french fries or sausages.
Pepitas or pumpkin seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are also known as Pepitas (from the Mexican Spanish: pepita de calabaza, "little seed of squash"). They have a thick shell that is edible and contains fibre. You can also remove the shell to discover a green and tender seed that has a nutty taste and can be used in salads, granolas, etc. For our recipe, however, we will use the pumpkin seed with the shell.
How to make perfect flavoured roasted pepitas?
Start with separating the pepitas from the flesh. I did it by hand and it’s quite a job. Depending on the size of your pumpkin and number of seeds you will need at least 10 minutes to do the job.
Place the seeds in the colander and rinse thoroughly to remove any of the leftover goop from the pumpkin.
Then it’s time to let them dry. You can let them dry on the paper towel for 1 hour or for 10 minutes in the oven. With dry seeds, it’s easier to properly distribute the coating. Also, the dry seeds will be crispier at the end.
Mix rosemary, garlic and olive oil in a bowl and coat the seed thoroughly.
Place them on the baking sheet and let them roast for 20 min in the oven. roast them in 80°C (160-170°F) oven for 15-20 minutes.
I have tried several herbs before I ended up with rosemary as my favourite. Its piney aroma and a distinctive sharp flavour go really well with garlic. It can be used fresh or dried and it greatly accomplishes the nutty taste of pepitas.
Other herbs and spices
If you don't like rosemary or you don't have access to it, feel free to use other herbs for seasonings such as Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Parsley or Basil.
Spices such as Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Garlic, Ground Cumin or Chilli or Curry powder are also a great choice.
Why eat pumpkin seeds?
Pumpkin seeds, like all seeds, are extremely nutritious and a great source of fibre.
They contain a large number of minerals including phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron and copper. phytosterols, compounds that may help lower cholesterol (1) L-tryptophan, which improves sleep and may prevent depression.
They are a rich source of zinc, that may prevent osteoporosis. They are a good source of vitamin E, containing about 35.10 mg tocopherol per 100 g.
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of Group B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folate). Contain quality protein. 100 g of seeds provide 30 g of protein. are full of antioxidants like carotenoids that may help protect against disease and reduce inflammation(2)
If you like to eat healthy and nutritious snacks, you might like these crunchy beet chips.
Where to get pepitas?
You can buy pumpkin seeds in the store to roast and flavour them later as per your taste
Or you can go buy a pumpkin specifically for its seeds.
But how to pick a pumpkin with the most seeds?
Pick a rather larger pumpkin. While larger pumpkins usually mean more seeds there is an exception for the Atlantic Giant that has surprisingly few seeds. You might also want to pick one that sounds hollow, meaning it has a large cavity with plenty of delicious seeds.
Another way of making them is on a pan. With just little bit of oil and seasoning you can roast them on a pan, flipping them once.
How to eat pepitas (pumpkin seeds)?
- Eat pumpkin seeds whole, along with the shell. If roasted perfectly, the outer shell doesn’t need to be removed.
- Open the outer shell and eat just the seed. The best way is to hold the outer shell in your hand and crack it in your mouth using your teeth. Get the inner seed out of the shell and discard the outer shell.
- Incorporate the pumpkin seeds in other recipes such as:
- Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on your salads
- Add them to granola, cookies or cereals
- Sprinkle them on soups
- Grind them with herbs such as parsley or cilantro and mix them with olive oil and lemon to make a tasty salad dressing
- Add them to dough when you make bread or muffins Add them to pesto Whip them up in creamy butter.
- Toss them on any kind of burger
How to store pepitas?
They can last up to one year if you keep them in an airtight container (so they don't pick up any moisture) in the fridge. Feel free to make larger batches and use them later. In room temperature they'll last up to 3 months.
Are we supposed to eat the pepitas with the shell?
The shell is edible and offers a great deal of texture and fibre.