What to do with that Pumpkin!
by Rebecca Ramdeholl, CHNC
Damn, pumpkins are just such a pain in the ass! They were awkward to carry around, even harder to carve, especially all the intricate designs that my kids always want. It’s a mess to clean, and all those seeds and guts! Ugh!
But this was all before I really realized the benefits of the seeds and guts of the pumpkin, and I finally figured out a way to utilize as much of the pumpkin as I could. Once the pumpkins are carved and set outside for the trick-or-treaters with a candle burning within (I’m old-school, not fake candle lights here), the pumpkins I find are useless afterwards. Bugs littered the interior, black splotches showing up in the pumpkin itself. That’s when I pitch them in the green bin.
The magic happens before the carving : )
As I get my carving set ready to make another scary face on my pumpkin, I also have dish towels, and freezer bags on hand. I clean out the pumpkin guts, and set them on my dish towels that are displayed all over my kitchen table and counters. The dish towel absorbs the moisture, and the seeds are meticulously picked through and set on another dish towel to dry. I don’t pick the seeds clean of guts, as I find it tends to add to flavour and color. I find that leaving the seeds out overnight will dry it out properly, although they do get stuck on the dish towel.
Put the seeds in a bowl, add a little olive oil to it, and a generous amount of salt (I use Himalayan Salt), and any spices or herbs you want to add – I like to add paprika, a little chili pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Toss to coat and then spread out on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes at 325 F. This same technique can be used for squash seeds as well, but bake for 10 minutes at 300 F. These do vary according to your stove or toaster oven.
The BEST thing about thing about pumpkin or squash seeds, is the snacking! It’s so delicious! And my insanely picky eater child loves them. This helps regulate her and provides some missing nutrients she may not be getting because of her aversion to food that is not colored beige.
The whole pumpkin seed includes an awesome amount of healthy fats, magnesium and zinc. So, lubrication from the healthy fats, and the “chill” mineral along with the nutrient who has a role in the repair of intestinal mucosa, I’m not surprised my child is easily eliminating with no issues. Pumpkin seeds can also benefit heart and prostate, and help protect against certain cancers.
As for the rest of the pumpkin, when I scoop out the seeds, I keep the guts, and scrape some of the interior as well and I just throw them in to the freezer in a freezer bag until I figure out what to do with them. I usually end up pureeing them and freezing them that way. I’ll use the puree in my baking (banana/pumpkin bread) or I’ll throw the actual guts into my smoothies for a touch of Fall flavour.
Enjoy those pumpkins this year, and enjoy the benefits they bring you! Have a great Hallowe’en, and take it easy with the candy : )
Here’s a few of my Jack o’ Lanterns I’ve carved over the years for your enjoyment.
Have a great night!