Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Pumpkin Seeds for Thanksgiving

For us Brits the pumpkin season has been and gone as the witches’ hats and ghostly Halloween trimmings are put away for another year.  But for our American chums, pumpkin fever continues to burn.  As a stalwart favourite on dining tables State-side all year round, it also has its supporting role in the cast of Thanksgiving Dinner.

Not an expert in the traditions or protocol of Thanksgiving feasting, I’ll leave Pumpkin Pie suggestions to my fellow American bloggers.   (Although, by the way worth noting, Jamie Oliver has a very nice Pumpkin Tart recipe in his ‘Jamie Does…’ book). 

As Thanksgiving approaches and pumpkin flesh is prepped and ready for family dinners, this blogpost steers away from all things flesh and goes to the very core of the pumpkin, focusing on the positives of pumpkin seeds.

We often see green pumpkin seeds on sale in packs at health food shops and don’t really think about how they get there.  When you carve into pumpkin flesh, they’re there, buried in amongst the stringy fibres in the heart of the pumpkin.  By keeping them and preparing them, with a little patience, you could have your own snack stash without having to resort to pre-packed versions.
Drying out the seeds on a tray

  • First things first, scoop out all the seeds and detach any flesh/fibres.
  • Wash the seeds to remove any debris.
  • Pat dry with a tea towel.
  • Spread the seeds out on a baking tray and either put them on the middle shelf of a warm oven or by a fireplace to dry out taking care not to burn them.  This process timewise in the oven it may take an hour or so and by a fireplace, it may take a day or few days to accomplish.
  • Once the seeds have dried out, perhaps shrunk a little and attained a more ‘matt’ appearance, they will be ready to eat.
Pumpkin Seed - Outer White Shell
The actual seed itself is within the outer white shell and to gain access to it, simply twist the top half of outer shell, the green pumpkin seed will be visible, pull it out and then discard the outer shell as appropriate.
Breaking the White Shell - Green Seed inside
I suppose it can seem an excessive exercise to achieve just an edible bowl of seeds but the health benefits make it a worthwhile task.  Here are some of the documented benefits they contain:

  • Packed with minerals including phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron and copper.
  • Good source of vitamins B, E and K.
  • High in zinc which can protect again osteoporosis.
  • Contains Omega 3
  • Contain good quality protein levels (30g of protein per 100g of seeds)
  • Is one of the very few foods that increases in nutritional value as it decomposes.

Green Pumpkin Seed

So when you carve up your pumpkin for Thanksgiving this week or even for Halloween next year or in fact for any time in between, think twice about throwing away your seeds and keep them as you’ve got a little snack goldmine in the palm of your hands  just waiting to be devoured.

Note:  Health benefits have been extracted from online sources – Link one and link two
To gain a full overview of pumpkin seed benefits, refer to a qualified nutritionist.

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