THE FOOD SERIES: Pumpkin Seeds
Finally my first post in the nut and seed category, how exciting! I’m starting off with a good one!
In Latin America, pepita is another named used for pumpkin seeds. This usually refers to the hulled and roasted version. Pumpkin seeds are flat, green, oval-shaped seeds that have a chewy, nutty and slightly sweet flavour.
Pumpkins and pumpkin seeds belong to the same family as cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber and squash: the gourd or Cucurbitaceae family.
Pumpkin seeds can be found in many forms. From raw and shelled, raw and unshelled, roasted and shelled, to roasted and unshelled. No matter which form you purchase them in, and whether it is from the bulk bin or prepackaged, it is super important to make sure there are no signs of moisture. Additionally if possible, smell the seeds and make sure they do not smell rancid but smell fresh.
I personally purchase organic, raw, and shelled seeds. This gives me more control when you decide to roast them in terms of the temperature and timing and prevention of damage to the fats.
Pumpkins and pumpkin seeds are native to the Americas. The name ‘pepita’ comes from the Spanish phrase “pepita de calabaza” meaning “little seed of squash”.
Today China is the leader in pumpkin and pumpkin seed production, followed by India, Russia, Ukraine, Mexico and the United States.
One tablespoon raw seeds:
1.1 g carbs
0.5 g fiber
3.6 g fat
2.2 g protein
0.3 mg manganese
86.6 mg phosphorus
0.6 mg zinc
Ahhh zinc, something we have yet to talk about in The Food Series. Zinc does not get as much credit or attention as many other minerals, yet it is just as crucial to our health and our bodies. Some of the main functions of zinc include: growth and development, maintenance of healthy skin, immune function support, importance for taste sensory, antioxidant benefts, as well as a cofactor by more than 100 enzymes! So a deficiency in zinc you may have guessed, may result in slowed recovery and healing of wounds, slowed growth and development during puberty, fatigue, hair loss, learning disabilities and poor attention span, and more.
In addition to zinc, pumpkins seeds are also rich in other minerals such as manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and iron.
Antioxidants, yes you must be thinking, every single post within The Food Series have antioxidant benefits and pumpkin seeds are no different. What is special about pumpkin seeds however is the wide diversity of antioxidants that they contain. Not only do they have vitamin E but they have an array of vitamin E forms. For example: alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, alpha-tocomonoenol and gamma-tocomonoenol. That might all seem gibberish to you but they are all forms of vitamin E that are all found just within pumpkin seeds!
Some other health benefits of pumpkin seeds that have been found include: being anti-fungal and anti-viral, diabetes support, and cancer-related benefits.
WAYS TO ENJOY
There are actually SO many ways to enjoy pumpkin seeds! For most of us, it is usually consumed in its originally state, whether that is raw or roasted. It makes for a perfect snack, as it is light and easy to take on the go.
As a topping
It instantly adds that extra crunch, that extra texture, that pop of green colour and makes anything that much more delicious and filling. I love to sprinkle some pumpkin seeds on top of smoothie bowls, oatmeal, salads, overnight oats… honestly it can literally be anything.
In a recipe
There are few recipes in which pumpkin seeds is the sole and main ingredient. However, there are a variety of recipes that can include pumpkin seeds in them. For example, if you ever make your own burgers (veggie burgers of course), adding in some pumpkin seeds in the mixture makes it that much more amazing. You can also add in pumpkin seed when making homemade granola, which can then be sprinkled on top of again literally anything, or just consumed by itself with some plant-based mylk. Other recipes you can add pumpkin seeds in may be cakes, breads, bars, or other baked goods!
Just like any other nut mylk, yes seeds can be made into mylks as well. Simply soak overnight, strain in the morning, and blend with some water! Then use it like you would with any other mylk!
- The green pumpkin seeds that you buy are the ‘naked’ version of white pumpkin seeds
- Pumpkin seed oil has a low smoke point and will turn bitter if heated, so it is best when used as salad dressings or consumed as is.
- Native Americans used pumpkin seeds as food and medicine.
- To optimize the bioavailability of the seeds, it is best to soak, sprout them prior to consumption. Additionally, dehydrating them will make the seeds even more palatable.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES / REFERENCES