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Pumpkin Seeds

An Introduction
High in protein, phosophorous and iron. Pumpkin seeds are great in salads or just for snacking. No need to worry about what to do with the shells because there aren't any! A great party snack with a slight touch of salt and roasted to perfection.

What are Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are also known as pepita deriving from the Spanish pepita de calabaza, "little seed of squash". These are usually edible seeds of pumpkin which are flat, dark green seeds. Some varieties are encased in a yellow-white husk, although some varieties of pumpkins produce seeds

without shells; for instance those of antaloupe, cucumber, and squash. Pumpkins along with their seeds belong to the gourd or Cucurbitaceae family.

The pumpkin seeds are subtly sweet and nutty in flavour with a malleable, chewy texture. While pumpkin seeds are available year round, they are the freshest in the fall when pumpkins are in season.

Roasted and salted pumpkin seeds are a great snack food and make for a very popular ingredient in the cuisines of many countries such as Greece, Turkey, the Balkan countries, Spain, Italy and Mexico. Western Europeans and Americans have relatively recently discovered the appeal of pumpkin seeds. Today, the leading commercial producers of pumpkins include the United States, Mexico, India and China.

 

Nutrients in Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of minerals, with just a quarter of a cup containing nearly 20% of the recommended daily intake of zinc and 50% of the daily recommended intake for magnesium and manganese.

As well as containing some B vitamins they also contain good amounts of vitamin K, needed for bone health and blood clotting.

In terms of their fat content, pumpkin seeds are a good way to get both the omega 3 and 6 essential fats needed for hormone balance, brain function and skin health.

 

Health Benefits
Pumpkin seeds are not only delicious but also provide many health benefits. Here are ten:

  • Prostate Protection - They promote overall prostate health and alleviate the difficult urination associated with an enlarged prostate.
  • Improved Bladder Function - In some studies, pumpkin seed extracts improved bladder function in animals
  • Depression Treatment - They contain L-tryptophan, a compound naturally effective against depression.
  • Prevention of Osteoporosis - Because they are high in zinc, pumpkin seeds are a natural protector against osteoporosis. Low intake of zinc is linked to higher rates of osteoporosis
  • Natural Anti-Inflammatory - Pumpkin seeds effectively reduce inflammation without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Prevention of Kidney Stones - They prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation, according to studies
  • Treatment of Parasites - They are used in many cultures as a natural treatment for tapeworms and other parasites. Studies also show them to be effective against acute schistosomiasis, a parasite contracted from snails
  • Great Source of Magnesium - 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds contains 92% of your daily value of magnesium, a mineral in which most Americans are deficient.
  • Lower Cholesterol - Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, compounds that that have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol
  • Cancer Prevention - The same phytosterols that lower cholesterol also protect against many cancers.
 

Recipes
Pumpkin seeds are a tasty snack that can be eaten on their own or in salads and other savoury dishes.
Grated carrot, courgette and pumpkin seed coleslaw
Ingredients
Serves 4

  • 3 carrots, trimmed, peeled and grated
  • 2 courgettes, trimmed and cut into fine julienne (matchstick) strips or grated
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed and finely diced
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp egg-free mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
 

Method
Mix the carrots, courgettes and spring onions in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix the cider vinegar with the mayonnaise and then mix in with the coleslaw ingredients. Cover and chill until required. Serve garnished with the pumpkin seeds.

Following are some serving tips:-

  • Add pumpkin seeds to healthy sautéed vegetables
  • Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of mixed green salads
  • Grind pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro leaves. Mix with olive oil and lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing
  • Add chopped pumpkin seeds to your favorite hot or cold cereal
  • Add pumpkin seeds to your oatmeal raisin cookie or granola recipe
  • Next time you make burgers, whether it be from vegetables, turkey or beef, add some ground pumpkin seeds.

 
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