After you carve your jack-o-lanterns this year, don’t just toss out the seeds! Try this healthy recipe pumpkin seed granola this fall.
Pumpkin seeds are actually very good for your health. They contain lots of nutrients and healthful fats. Roasting the seeds is simple and creates a delicious healthy snack that you can enjoy anytime by itself or make your own granola! But first, let’s explore some of the health benefits of pumpkin seeds.
Relieving anxiety while promoting good health
Pumpkin seeds contain the healthful omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, which works as an anti-inflammatory agent. The seeds are also very rich in phytosterols, the plant version of cholesterol.
Pumpkin seeds contain a large amount of magnesium, which you need for normal nerve and muscle function and many chemical reactions in your body. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of iron and B vitamins, which your body needs for energy, and potassium, which helps protect your heart and regulates blood pressure.
One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 148 calories. The payback comes in the following forms:
- Lowering cholesterol: According to The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2005, pumpkin seeds are rich in phytosterols that help to reduce cholesterol. The omega-3 fatty acids in pumpkin seeds also help to reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Avoid bladder stones: Research from Thailand found that eating pumpkin seeds reduced the risk of bladder stones (small masses of minerals that form in the urinary bladder). This benefit was attributed to the high levels of phosphorus in the seeds.
- Treating anxiety: Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that’s important for the production of brain chemicals that affect your mood. The Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology reported on a small study in 2007 that discovered that tryptophan in seeds helped to relieve symptoms of social anxiety disorder. Tryptophan is also used as a sleep aid.
- Protecting your prostate: Eating pumpkin seeds may help to reduce the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia. According to research published in 2006 in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, pumpkin seed oil reduces prostate hyperplasia in rats by inhibiting testosterone.
Picking pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are available in the snack section of the grocery store; however, most are roasted in oils that add extra fat and calories. Look instead for pumpkin seeds in the baking area of your grocery store. Or, for a fun project, toast your own pumpkin seeds at home—a great thing to do after carving those Halloween pumpkins.
Cut open a pumpkin and remove the pulp and seeds. Clean the pulp from the seeds and soak them in water overnight. Some people, especially those who have a hard time digesting raw nuts and seeds, find they can enjoy these foods more often if they’re soaked and roasted or dehydrated. But if you don’t have any digestive issues with seeds, or if you don’t have the time or inclination to soak the seeds overnight, you can skip that step. Spread the seeds on a paper towel to dry, then spread them on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and towel to dry, then spread them on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and add a few sprinkles of salt. Roast in an oven heated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are golden brown.
Pumpkin seeds can also be roasted in your microwave. Spread the seeds on a glass tray, place it in the microwave, and cook on high for seven minutes or until seeds are light golden brown.
For variety, sprinkle curry powder or any other seasoned powder on the pumpkin seeds before roasting.
Keep the pumpkin seeds in an airtight container. Munch on the seeds as a healthful snack or add them to vegetables, salads, or your own granola. You can also buy dark red pumpkin seed oil, which is delicious drizzled over salads or vegetables.
Make your own granola
Make this granola to keep handy as a quick snack, or eat it as a cold cereal with milk. This granola has a toasty, nutty flavor and is a delicious way to enjoy pumpkin seeds, almonds, oats and cranberries.
Prep time: About 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 to 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
- 2 cups rolled oats
- ½ cup raw unsalted slivered almonds
- ¼ cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup raw unsalted pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ cup canola oil
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix together oats, almonds, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a bowl.
- Mix the honey and oil together in a separate bowl, then pour onto dry mixture. Stir well.
- Spread onto a greased baking pan and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden in color, stirring occasionally.
- Pour into bowl and add cranberries. Let the granola cool, then store in a covered container.
Per serving: Calories 458 (From Fat 275); Fat 31g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 3mg; Carbohydrate 42g (Dietary Fiber 5g); Protein 9g.
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