Here’s a little Halloween trivia: Trick-or-treating began in the late 1930s. Back then, a little ghost or goblin was just as likely to get coins, nuts, toys, cakes and cookies as candy. My favorite Halloween treat wasn’t candy at all. It was my Mom’s home-roasted pumpkin seeds. It was a yearly delight. Then I grew up and moved to Texas where I soon discovered a world of recipes featuring this delicious, nutritious seed, mostly known as “pepitas.”
Pumpkins have been part of the traditional Native American diet for thousands of years. Every part was used for food including the seeds, which were also used for medicinal purposes. Their sweet, mild taste and nutritional value make them ideal for a modern, healthy American diet, too.
While you can purchase pumpkin seeds, it’s fun to roast your own too. Here’s our simple, no-fail recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. Here’s a spiffed-up version of Spicy Tamari Pumpkin Seeds. Using these basic recipes, get creative with spices such as curry, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. You can also add a little maple syrup or honey for a sweet treat.
Pumpkin seeds are so versatile you can eat them for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Enjoy these great ideas:
- Add to hot or cold cereal, home-baked granola or this Fruit and Hemp Seed Muesli.
- Add to purchased or homemade trail mix.
- Make Pumpkin Seed Pesto for pasta and grain dishes.
- Eat them sprinkled over Hummus, Eggplant Garbanzo Bean Dip, Cream Cheese Dip or Spicy Chipotle Chili Bean Dip.
- Add to cookies, cakes, quick breads and muffins.
- Garnish ice cream, yogurt, fresh fruit salads or non-dairy desserts.
- Bake Flax and Pumpkin Seed Corn Bread for your next Cowboy Chili or Texas Chili dinner.
- Sprinkle as a garnish on dark chocolate cake or decadent brownies.
- Cook whole grain pasta; toss with olive oil, garlic, your favorite cheese and roasted pumpkin seeds, or make this Roasted Corn and Tomato Pasta Salad.
- Garnish salads with roasted pumpkin seeds. Now is the time to enjoy this Fall Greens Salad.
- Garnish grain and legume dishes and salads. You will love our Black Bean Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing and our Quinoa and Green Bean Salad with Sesame and Pumpkin Seeds.
- Slow-roast winter squash with pumpkin seeds for a truly Native American feast!
- Stir into yogurt, cottage cheese, softened cream cheese or ricotta cheese.
- Grind and use for specialty sauces such as Pumpkin Seed Mole with Chicken.
- Garnish roasted root vegetables, steamed vegetables or sautéed vegetables.
- Garnish stew, chili or soups such as corn, pumpkin, butternut squash or vegetable. This popular Guatemalan Chicken Stew with Tomatillo Sauce uses roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Add to pancakes and waffles.
- Puree in a blender to make pumpkin seed butter for toast and bagels.
- Make your own Three-Seed Rosemary Crackers.
Store pumpkin seeds in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to six months, or in the freezer for up to a year. Toasted and roasted seeds should always be kept cold as the oils are more susceptible to rancidity. If not refrigerated, keep them air-tight and use within six to eight weeks of purchasing.
Got a perfect purpose for pumpkin seeds? Let me know.