Pumpkin seeds probably bring to mind the stringy mix that comes out of a pumpkin before you carve it. Many people discard the seeds as unusable without a second thought. However, give pumpkin seeds another look before tossing them aside. These seeds are a healthy addition to your diet when eaten with their shells or without, although the hulls, or shells, of pumpkin seeds can cause gastrointestinal symptoms for some.
Eating Pumpkin Seeds
When looking for pumpkin seeds in the grocery store, you will probably find both shelled and unshelled varieties for sale. Eating the entire pumpkin seed shell and all is perfectly safe. Some people prefer shelled seeds for children to avoid any risk of choking hazard. If you do not chew the shell thoroughly, it can become lodged in your throat or scratch your throat as you swallow. Some find that eating whole pumpkin seeds results in a minor stomach ache. People who suffer from stomach ailments should take caution when eating seeds with shells, as they may cause an upset. For everyone else, as long as you thoroughly chew the shell, pumpkin seeds are safe to consume in their whole form.
Making Pumpkin Seeds
Roasting homemade pumpkin seeds from a Halloween pumpkin is a tradition loved by many. Roasting the seeds on your own allows you to have more control over the flavor and nutritional content that you would otherwise not have when buying your seeds readymade at the store. To make your own roasted pumpkin seeds, soak your cleaned pumpkin seeds in a bowl full of salt water overnight, drain the seeds in a colander and lay them on a clean paper towel or dish towel to dry. Put the seeds on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for about an hour. You need to turn the seeds frequently to prevent burning.
Using Pumpkin Seeds
On their own, pumpkin seeds make great snacks, and you can also use them in your meals. Salted or flavored pumpkin seeds add crunch to soups or salads and make a tasty garnish for pasta dishes. You can also use pumpkin seeds to change up a regular trail mix recipe or to make a sweet pumpkin seed brittle mix.
Pumpkin seeds are high in fat, calories and sodium (if you eat salted varieties); however, when eaten in small quantities, these seeds can provide a helpful hand to your health. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium. They are also a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, overindulging in pumpkin seeds can put you over your daily allowance for fat, calories and sodium.