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!