Make pumpkin seeds this year for a healthy snack

Nutrition and the fall season do not necessarily go hand in hand, with the piles of candy and the ample slices of pie. While many parents may go to great lengths to ensure their youngsters’ fall treats offer at least a little nutritional value, the bulk of costumed kids’ hauls still tends to be candy.

Pumpkin seeds are one delicious yet often overlooked treat. According to Healthline, an online medical resource that aims to educate readers as they pursue their health and overall well-being, pumpkin seeds provide a host of health benefits.

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that a single cup of pumpkin seeds can provide as much as 22 percent of a person’s daily recommended value of dietary fiber. In addition, pumpkin seeds are loaded with vitamin K, which plays a role in blood clotting and bone metabolisms and helps to regulate blood calcium levels.

Pumpkin seeds tend to be easily accessible come fall, especially when carving pumpkins for Halloween. When carving pumpkins this year, people can forgo relegating pumpkin seeds to the garbage can in favor of cooking them.

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The following are some tips, courtesy of Whole Foods, to help people prepare and cook pumpkin seeds.

Remove seeds from the inner cavity. Pumpkin seeds may sometimes be covered in excess pulp. Upon removing the seeds from the inner cavity, wipe off the pulp and then spread the seeds out evenly on a paper bag, allowing them to dry overnight.

Once the seeds have dried, they can be placed in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Roast the seeds in the oven at a temperature between 160 and 170 F for 15 to 20 minutes. Whole Foods notes researchers found that roasting pumpkin seeds for more than 20 minutes can lead to unwanted changes in the fat structure of the seeds. To avoid such changes, make sure the seeds are not roasted for more than 20 minutes.

Once they have been roasted, pumpkin seeds can be served as-is as a delicious snack. The seeds also can be sprinkled into mixed green salads. Pumpkin seeds can even be ground with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro leaves and then mixed with olive oil and lemon juice to create a delicious salad dressing. Chopped pumpkin seeds also can be added to cereals.

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