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feel good food that's good for you

As I write, Hurricane Sandy is set to bear down on the east coast of America. From coastal New Jersey to slightly more northerly Massachusetts, pretty much everything has shut down for the time being. This Frankenstorm, with its spooky Halloween timing, full moon and clash of warm and cold weather systems, has seen Presidential electioneering suspended (those annoying campaign phone calls will doubtless continue) and transport and public services halted. For goodness sake, even Wall Street has been abandoned. But I daresay, barring serious structural damage, trick or treaters will be out in force come Wednesday. 

Meantime, while schools are off and work places shut, many will be home. Waiting. Having lived in Florida for the first half of my life I know a bit about hurricanes. How the whipped up and frothy ocean looks at once romantic and challenging, how you suddenly get the urge to go to the store in driving rain and plant-flattening wind for just one more pack of candles, or a bumper bag of doughnuts (nerves burn loads of calories, right?). But it isn’t romantic getting swept off a pier, or sailing down the road in your car-cum-boat as a storm surge hits. Please, if you are reading this and contemplating a bit of outdoor exploring (all storms are strangely beautiful and siren-like), sit tight and maybe get creative. See that pumpkin sitting mouldering on the kitchen tables? Draw a design on its shell and get carving. And while you are scooping out the rather inedible flesh (traditional pumpkins are usually tasteless), SAVE THOSE SEEDS.

This is just about the easiest treat you can make. And nearly free, which appeals to my inner freegan (minus the dumpster diving). Although, to be perfectly honest I prefer the smaller, slightly tastier seeds from butternut squash, seeds from your carved pumpkin are still really delish. And not at all tricky to make even more delicious.

What’s more, the seeds are incredibly nutritious, packing an astonishing amount of body-loving goodies in their unprepossessing looking white shells. A quarter cup serving (about 32 grams, and 180 calories) of the intact seed gives over 15% of our RDA for iron, 17% of zinc, and 20% protein – so very filling. Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas as they are sometimes called (although these should properly refer to the hulled version) are also a particularly good source of the essential amino acid, tryptophan, which is used by the body to help make the B vitamin niacin and the calming hormone, serotonin. World’s Healthiest Foods has loads more information about these snacky seeds.

Although I’ve written these up to make a tasty, filling snack, I often roast them plainly and toss them through salads (perfect with goats’ cheese and fruit salads) or float atop autumn soups.

What ‘free’ bit of food do you use? Do you stash chicken carcasses in the freezer to make a big pot of stock? Or what about parmesan cheese rinds to add flavour to soup? I’d love to hear what you save that most people toss!

Cocoa-roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Last Year: Edamame, Apricot and Mint Couscous
 
Most roasted pumpkin seed recipes appeal to the savoury-toothed among us, and indeed my salt and vinegar version (below) is a healthy nod to the British crisps of the same ilk (and to paper-wrapped fish and chips too). But this one will hit the spot for anyone wanting a sweet AND healthy snack. It also happens to be quick and filling too. These ostensibly keep for a few days in an airtight container, but really, what are the chances of that happening? PS I have it on good authority that these are perfect PMS snacks, satisfying chocolate cravings and calming hormone-frayed nerves in a one-er. 
 
Seeds from one 1.5 kg (3 lb, 5 oz) pumpkin, rinsed and rubbed in a cloth to remove the stringy bits
½  small egg white, lightly whisked OR a  ½ tsp of rapeseed/canola oil
2 tbsp cocoa powder (I use Green & Black’s)
2 (+) tbsp demerara sugar (the crunchy kind) OR coconut palm sugar
 
Toss the prepared seeds with the egg whites or oil.
 
In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa and sugar. Add the coated seeds and toss lightly with a fork until just mixed. Spread the seeds onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray and roast at 150C/300F for 20 minutes, turning once. A few seeds might pop, and most will be puffed up. Take the tray out of the oven and allow the seeds to cool on the tray before loosening with a spatula and decanting onto a cool plate, where they will crisp up further.
 
Variation: mix in a little salt and/or cayenne to the cocoa and sugar mixture; mix in some finely grated orange peel to the egg white/oil before coating the seeds.
 

Salt and Vinegar Pumpkin Seeds

 
Salt and vinegar crisps are a special, naughty treat that I crave when feeling a bit sorry for myself. Which isn’t very often, I might add. Although the occasional small packet of crisps (the 25g bag) is no great shakes, this little invention all but nips this yearning/need in the bud. It may seem odd to boil the seeds first, but trust me. During the boiling the vinegar is absorbed into the seeds so you get a nippy taste without the toasted result being at all soggy. 
 
Seeds from one 1.5 kg (3 lb, 5 oz) pumpkin, rinsed and rubbed in a cloth to remove the stringy bits
50 ml apple cider vinegar OR white wine vinegar (you could probably use any vinegar though)
100 ml water
1 tsp rapeseed/canola oil
Salt, to taste
 
Bring the vinegar and water to the boil then add the seeds. Simmer for 10 minutes; drain and pat dry or steam dry. Toss the seeds in the oil and spread in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Sprinkle over salt to taste. Bake the seeds in a 150C/300F oven for 20 minutes, or until the seeds are puffed and starting to pop. Remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool on the tray before decanting onto a cool plate to crisp up further. Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container. To revive the seeds in damp weather, pop them back into a 180C/350F oven for 3-4 minutes.
 
 
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32 thoughts on “All Hallow’s Seeds – Cocoa-roasted Pumpkin Seeds and Salt and Vinegar Pumpkin Seeds

  1. Perfect timing for both these recipes! Miss SiSi and I carved a pumpkin yesterday and saved the seeds for roasting. We were thinking cinnamon sugar, but both your versions look mighty tasty too! Happy Halloween to you and your family!

    1. Mmm, cinnamon sugar sounds delish. I had never done mine sweet before the cocoa ones so I must branch out next time I spilt a pumpkin or squash. Have a safe one, you guys. Is Miss SiSi dressing up?

  2. Perfect timing for these recipes! I usually just toss my pepitas with some maple syrup and bake them for a “pumpkin seed brittle” of sorts, but these are so much more appealing!

    1. Oh, maple syrup brittle ones sound great to me! Will try that next!

  3. Dip It Black says:

    Love pumpkin and pumkin seeds! Great recipe and that mug is too cute!

    X

    http://dipitblack.com

    1. Thanks! I’ve had those espresso cups for ages and never used them as a prop before, but I just had a ta da moment and thought the wee boy with the chocolate smeared favce was perfect. Hope you try the seeds!

  4. Really like the look of the cocoa seeds…yum :)
    Are you back in wee Scotland?

    1. Just back, Miss Kelly. And those seeds are so delish and filling they subbed as my dinner! Think that might be a bit of jetlag though too. My clock is all wonky :D

  5. coastalcrone says:

    The next time I buy a pumpkin for a pie I will have to try your recipes for the seeds. I freeze bits of leftover this and that and put them in my next soup/stew.

    1. I stash lots of stuff too but I’m not always organised enough to use it before freezer burn sets in ;)

  6. Natalie Ward says:

    Love the idea of the cocoa version, I’ve only roasted them with salt & pepper before, I need to spice it up a bit defintely! My favourite free food is my homemade veg stock, it makes me feel so frugal, which doesn’t happen often because of my shoe addiction. I keep organic veggie peelings and off cuts in the freezer in freezer bags then chuck them in a huge pot with salt, bay leaves, rosemary, peppercorns and a few smashed garlic cloves. Fill it up with water, bring to boil, lower & simmer covered for 1 hour. Drain and freeze in litre or pint containers. It makes the house smell really cosy too I love it. I keep one pot in the fridge at all times for risottos, soups, stews, curries whatever. it’s my once a week organisy thing, that’s as good as I get!! ;)

    1. I like your style Natalie, balancing homemade vegetable stock with shoe addiction. That works!

  7. shuhanlee says:

    I eat lots of “free” food. caracasses check,veggie roots and tops check,seeds check (: this seeds sound awesome, super love the idea of a salt-and-vinegar flavoured one,like crisps but much healthier, and with an added nutty aroma. yum!

  8. eastofedencook says:

    I never thought to try cocoa roasted seeds, what a inspired treat! Smoked sea salt imparts a lovely flavor to the crunchy seeds. I don’t like wasting food either and am fortunate my mother who is 86 is more than pleased with any leftovers I may have. My go to recipes for leftover are burritos, soup and salads.

    1. I’ve not heard of burritos as a waste fighter, but I can see how that would be good, esp with the vegetables you will get in CA. I really love the idea of you feeding your Mom. I’m sure she appreciates everything that comes from your kitchen, upcycled or not! Oh, I love smoked salt too. I use Maldon’s. What about you?

  9. laura_howtocook says:

    I really do love both the sweet and the savoury pumpkin seed snacks you have created here. What an inspired idea, totally love it Kellie!

    1. Thanks so much Laura. I think most kids would like this. Perhaps yours?

  10. I’m going to try that next time I have butternut squash, which is often.

    1. Yay! I do prefer butternut squash, and we probably go through one large one a week, so we also go through a lot of seeds. I just thought the salt and vinegar was a quite fun idea. Glad you approve :D

  11. Urvashi Roe says:

    What a great post Kellie. Brilliant ideas which I shall have a go at today! Thank you for sharing and the nutritional info is fab too xx

  12. Lou says:

    Yum Kellie. Brilliant idea and I love how the variations are endless and you can experiment to your hearts content. Thanks for the ideas.

  13. Camilla says:

    Thank you for your post. I am definitely going to try one of these recipes today as I will be carving our pumpkin this morning and the toasted seed sound delicious and nutritious!

  14. I wish I had seen this a few days ago, before I just plain old toasted our pumpkin seeds. The salt and vinegar version is right up my alley, but will just have to will for next year. In the meantime, I can eat the ones I roasted comfortable in the knowledge that they’re good for me.

    We take advantage of a lot of free foods at our place, amongst them watermelon rind, carrot greens, citrus peels (in the freezer awaiting Xmas), and vegetable odds and ends (for stock). And pumpkin seeds, of course.

    1. Shannon says:

      Me too…we’ll have to save this for next time! I curried-and-toasted my last batch of seeds.

  15. Jacqueline @How to be a Gourmand says:

    What a fantastic idea! Who would have thought pumpkin and butternut squash seeds could be enhanced with cocoa – and with all that nutritional value, what’s not to love? I don’t always keep them (*guilty face*) but I have been known to put parmesan cheese rinds into soup :-)

    1. Ah, you are about the only other person I have heard of that does this. It’s quite a good trick – very umami. I only tend to upcycle things if they will actually taste good, rather than just for the sake of if. Our local recycling is so good here that I know what little food waste we have actually gets composted locally. PS somehow your comment ended up in my spam file – wedged in between the usual SEO junk and GUcci handbags! Not sure how you ended up there, Jacqueline

  16. Gloriously moreish and a great idea for my seeds, of which, I have quite a few now! Lovely Kellie, and as always, your photos feed my soul……and my virtual appetite! Karen

  17. A great way to really enjoy the goodness of pumpkin seeds. These would make perfect snacks for parties. Yum

  18. Ooh, this just might help me forget that I ever loved potato chips like a toxic relationship with “right now” sex.

  19. Pingback: Squash Soup Recipe

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