Wednesday, October 20, 2010

You must be out of your gourd!

Men are like pumpkins. It seems like all the good ones are either taken or they've had everything scraped out of their heads with a spoon.

The air is crisp, the leaves are vibrant . . . fall is here! Soon there will be a ridiculously large pumpkin sitting atop my kitchen table to be sacrificed for Halloween. The guts will be scooped and scraped. The flesh will be stabbed and slashed. A brutal process for a quaint tradition.

Contained within the fibers of the stringy innards are the seeds . . . don’t throw them away. Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are flat, dark green seeds. Pumpkin seeds are chewy to the bite and nutty to the palate. Roasted pumpkin seeds make a yummy snack that is actually very good for you. Lightly roasted seeds provide better nutrition than dark ones, as excessive heat destroys some of their nutritive value.

After removing guts from the inside the pumpkin, prepare the seeds by removing excess pulp that may have stuck to them. It’s okay to leave some pulp on your seeds (it adds flavor) but try to get off as much of the bigger pieces as possible.

1. Soak the seeds overnight in salt water.

2. When you’re ready to roast them, dry them with a towel.

3. While it's O.K. to leave some strings and pulp on your seeds (it adds flavor), clean off any major chunks.

4. Place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet, stirring to coat. If you prefer, omit the oil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.

5. Sprinkle with salt and bake at 325 degrees F until toasted, about 25 minutes, checking and stirring after 10 minutes.

6. Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

Optional Seasoning to Taste:
• Garlic Powder Or Garlic Salt
• Seasoning Salt
• Black Pepper
• Salt Free Seasoning Blend, Such As Mrs. Dash Brand
• Cayenne Pepper
• Seasoning Salt
• Cajun Seasoning Blend
• Chili Powder
• Mexican Style Chili Lime Seasoning
• Italian Seasoning Or Other Herbs
• Grated Hard Cheese Such As Parmesan

Besides nibbling on the toasted seeds as a snack, you can add them to sautéed vegetables, green salads, cookie dough, granola, and bread recipes.

Acorn and Butternut squash seeds are tasty also and can be toasted the same way as pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin seeds should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. While they may stay edible for several months, they seem to lose their peak freshness after about one to two months.

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