Pssst! Have you seen this easy, NO SUGAR Halloween party plan? Games and food included, easy to just grab it if you’re planning a classroom Halloween party!
The best part about carving pumpkins isn’t the gooey mess all over your hands (and up to your armpits, practically), it isn’t the scummy mold that forms well before you think it should on your creations, and it isn’t even the frustration of forcing a 2mm thick knife through two inches of solid rind to make detailed designs around the eyes. Oh no, friends, such as rarely happens in the real food kitchen, you’ve got an opportunity for free nutrition, better than you can buy at the store, and for far less money.
Pumpkin seeds make great snacks! If you’re in a snacks rut, you’ll love Healthy Snacks to Go, an eBook with over 30 recipes for grab and go snacks that will nourish your family’s bodies, including the famous homemade granola bars, homemade Larabar-style treats, and even kid-friendly beef jerky.
- The seeds from one large pumpkin
- 2-3 Tbs. olive oil or melted coconut oil
- 1 tsp. sugar, optional (unrefined is fine)
- scant tsp. salt Pumpkin Pie Version:
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. cloves
- ⅛ tsp. ginger
- Spicy Version:
- 1 tsp.+ chili powder
- (I often use much more than what’s called for….)
- Start by rinsing the seeds in colander and try to get the bulk of the orange pulp off. This will take slightly longer and be slightly slimier than you hope, but you’ll get through it.
- Cover the seeds with warm water and some salt, maybe 1 Tbs to 4 cups if you’re measuring (but I usually don’t). Allow them to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Drain water off and lay out on cookie sheets to dry for 8 hours to overnight, if you have the time. It still works out if you don't.
- NOTE: if not soaking the seeds, just start here & decrease bake time by 10-30 minutes, depending on what temperature you choose to bake.
- In a bowl, toss seeds with oil and spices listed above.
- Once the seeds are coated, you have two options: preserve the enzymes or kill them for flavor.
- *Option A: Preserve the enzymes, which help digestion and are all around good for you, by dehydrating the seeds at no higher than 150F. This may take anywhere from 12-24 hours. Sometimes more. You’ll know they’re done when you taste one and it crunches satisfyingly in your mouth.
- *Option B: Flavor, but less nutrition. In my book, the flavor of the roasted pumpkin seeds can’t be beat. I choose to roast our seeds in the oven. It takes at least an hour at 300 degrees. If you're baking other things anyway, put a tray of seeds in, too, for about 30-40 minutes at 350F or 20-30 minutes at 400F.
- Stir every 10-20 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is. There's great variation in seed size, so this process includes some guessing and checking...which is a delicious way to cook. :)
- I recommend the lower temperature, because you’re baking the soaked seeds for a longer period of time to fully dry them out, and burnt pumpkin seeds are no good at all. There's less margin for error with a lower baking temp. If the pumpkin seeds get dry but not toasty, you can always turn the temperature up to 400F for 5-10 minutes at the end of the baking time.
Mostly how many corners you can cut and get away with it!
- Q – Can you leave them in the fridge for a day if you’re not ready to roast them?
A – Yes. Probably even longer. I tested this one just for you guys.
- Q – Can you soak the seeds before you rinse them, say, if you’re in too much of a hurry to do that part and just want to get slimy the following night?
A – Yes. Again, tested that just for you.
- Q – Can you leave the seeds more than 24 hours?
A – I know none of you would forget your seeds or get too busy to finish the job, but yet, more than 24 hours won’t hurt anything. You could also drain the seeds and allow them to stay wet in the colander. Shucks, leave them there a few days, keep them moist, and see if they’ll sprout! I wouldn’t recommend combining #2 and #3 though.
- Q – What if you forget to allow the seeds to dry out a bit overnight?
A – Turns out that’s no problem! You might do that if you’re going by memory from last year…
- Q – Can you overbake the seeds?
A – Try really hard not to. They burn and taste pretty badly.
- Q – Can you overdehydrate the seeds?
A – I don’t think it’s possible. They’ll just get crispier, but not burnt. If you’re going to forget about them, use the dehydrator!
- Q – Does this method work for other seeds that remind me of pumpkin seeds, like squash and cantaloupe?
A – Absolutely! I roasted some buttercup squash seeds last week, and they turned out quite nicely. A little chewy and dense, but definitely a success. Spaghetti squash seeds are perfect and butternut are also good, although I wouldn’t recommend melon seeds, as we found them so tough as to be almost inedible, and certainly not fun to eat at all.
Kitchen Tip: Need help cutting a tough pumpkin or squash? Put it in the oven whole for about 10 minutes while the oven heats up (or even at full temperature for dinner). It will soften just enough to get your knife through it.
Organizational tip: (I don’t give many organizing tips, so cherish these!) Keep the recipe in your “October” or “fall” file, or with the pumpkin carving equipment with your holiday decorations. I organize recipes by season sometimes.
Other Pumpkin Recipes:
- Healthy Pumpkin Muffin Recipe
- Pumpkin (or any orange vegetable) Pancakes (grain-free option)
- Soaked Pumpkin Muffins
- Easy, Healthy Pumpkin Cookies
- Cabbage Soup with Secret Super Food
- 6 Ways to Use Leftover Pumpkin
Other Halloween posts:
- Decorating for Halloween: Keeping it Holy and Cheap
- Sweetless Trick-or-Treats: Alternatives to the Sugar Fest
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