These little seeds are not only a delicious snack, they're a healthy complement to many foods you already eat!
Seeds are increasingly popular in many parts of the world because of their high nutritional value and health benefits, both as snacks and even as part of a gourmet meal.
You’ve certainly heard of chia seeds, famous for their role in helping lower blood cholesterol. Flax or sunflower seeds are also well known. However, there are others that are perhaps less acclaimed but still very nutritious, and that are very easy to come by: pumpkin seeds!
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Pumpkins have many seeds inside, and they are usually large, flat, smooth, and often in different colors. They have many beneficial health properties, including high protein and essential fats.
Pumpkin seeds have omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which protect the heart, reduce bad cholesterol (LDL), and increase good cholesterol (HDL).
They are a good source of protein, which can help regulate blood sugar in people with diabetes.
They have calcium, zinc, and magnesium to help keep bones healthy and strong by preventing diseases such as osteoporosis.
Pumpkin seeds also have vitamin A and antioxidants that stop free radicals and help delay aging.
They are very rich in fiber so they help lower blood cholesterol and prevent intestinal malfunction, particularly constipation.
Here are 5 ways to eat them:
They can be eaten directly from the squash with or without their shell. If they are in their shell, make sure to chew them well so they don’t give you an upset stomach.
2. Cooked, baked, or toasted
Baked The oven must be at a temperature of 325 degrees Farenheit. First, separate the seeds from the pumpkin pulp by hand or with a clean comb. Rinse or soak them for a couple of hours, run them through a strainer, dry them with paper towel, and place them on a baking sheet.
If you prefer, you can season them with a little curry, cayenne pepper, or salt for flavor. If you prefer them sweet, you can add some cloves, cinnamon, or nutmeg. Then, place the pumpkin seeds in the oven for 20 minutes until they get a golden color and a crunchy texture. Let them cool.
Toasted. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Farenheit. Separate the seeds from the pumpkin, boil them in water for 10 minutes, drain them, mix them up with olive oil, and place them on a tray. Keep them in the oven for 5 to 20 minutes.
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Fry the seeds in olive oil in a frying pan. When they start to jump, add 1 tablespoon of sugar in the pan to caramelize them. Keep in mind that even though they are more delicious this way, they will have more calories.
4. Added to other dishes
You can add pumpkin seeds to soups or casseroles, or sprinkle over other dishes as a replacement for grated cheese. They can be eaten mixed with yogurts, milk, or fruit salads. When toasted, they can be included in salads and fillings.
5. As flour or milk
You can make flour out of pumpkin seeds. Simply grind them in the food processor without toasting them first. This is recommended for gluten-intolerant people.
Pumpkin seed milk can be a lactose-free choice for breakfast or a snack. It is prepared with the tender, raw, and peeled seeds, previously soaked in water. Add brown sugar to taste, along with water and cinnamon or vanilla powder. Put the seeds, water, brown sugar or vanilla powder into the blender, then strain it. Once done, it can be kept in the refrigerator in a covered container for two days.
Now you have some new ways to eat pumpkin seeds and get all their nutrients and benefits for you and the rest of your family. Enjoy!
This article was originally published in the Spanish edition of Aleteia and has been translated and/or adapted here for English speaking readers.