Tuesday 10 October 2017

Save those seeds! It's not just pumpkin seeds that make great roasting!

It's Thrifty Food Tip time again, and since it's a classic fall morning here at the Wolf Den, I figured this would be the perfect thing for the season.

Roasted pumpkin seeds are definitely one of those things we associate with autumn. Their warm, toasty, nutty, slightly salty flavour makes for a great, healthy snack. While the pre-packaged ones are ok, nothing beats having them fresh, just as soon as they're cooled off enough from the oven! 
(Hmm.. Speaking of which, now I've got a craving! That's a hazard of writing the food-related portions of this blog. LOL)

As tasty as they are, what's even better is a medley of roasted/toasted seeds. You can roast up the seeds from cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, and pretty much any other gourd, squash, or melon you can think of, with delicious and nutritious results. 

That's right; I said nutritious!
Squash and melon seeds are simply teeming with health benefits.

Cantaloupe, honeydew, and other "muskmelon" seeds are super high in antioxidant vitamins, minerals, amino acids, as well as being a great source of fibre and healthy fats. 
Watermelon seeds contain all those too, in addition to a good dose of folate (AKA vitamin B9), iron, and the plant protein, lycopene, which, in addition to being a great protein source, is another heart health booster.

Not to be outdone, squash seeds contain all the above vitamins and minerals, plus zinc, which is another immune system benefactor. Zinc also promotes healthy cell growth and division, sleep, mood, senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and increases prostate health.

 Vitamins A, C, and E can improve and preserve your vision by helping to prevent macular degeneration, and, of course, we all know that vitamin C gives us a great boost to our immune system, which, considering that fall also marks the start of cold and flu season, is an especially good thing.

Important minerals contained in the seeds, like magnesium, phosphorous, iron, calcium, and potassium help control cholesterol, regulate blood pressure and cardiovascular function, improve bone density, immunity, metabolism, and brain function, and decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cancer
The heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular diseases by lowering the levels of "bad" (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.

Finally, a diet high in fibre adds its own cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose lowering properties, as well as promoting bowel health, for the prevention of things like IBS, diverticulosis, and diverticulitis. 

With all those health perks, great taste, and a FREE price tag, what's not to love?

Oh! And did I mention that it's mega simple to roast them, you can give them just about any flavour profile you want, and it's a great, fun activity to do with kids? 

  • seeds
  • enough oil (coconut, olive, grapeseed, peanut, etc.. whatever you want) to lightly coat the seeds
  • salt, pepper, and/or whatever spices/seasonings you like

  1. separate seeds from the bulk of the pulp and give them a quick rinse. Don't worry about removing all of the pulp/flesh. It will roast up nicely and add the flavour and fibre content.
  2. Preheat oven to 300°F. (you can use a higher temp, however, keeping it at or below
    300°F will retain most of the nutrients which high heat will destroy.)
  3. Toss together all ingredients until seeds are coated evenly with oil and seasonings
  4. Spread seeds in a single layer in a cast iron skillet, stoneware, or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake, checking and stirring every 15 minutes, until seeds are crisp and pulp is caramelized, probably about 20-40 minutes. 
  5. Let cool completely before serving/eating (OK.. Who am I kidding? At least let them cool enough to avoid burning yourself or others!)

Seasoning suggestions:
  • Olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper medley
  • Peanut oil, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Add extra flavour and texture with some dried seaweed flakes and/or kick it up a notch with some hot chilli oil. 
  • More savoury seasoning ideas: curry, cumin, chilli powder, garlic powder, onion powder, ranch dressing powdered mix, other dry soup or dip mixes
  • coconut oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Add a little sweetness with a drizzle of honey
  • coconut oil, cocoa powder and cinnamon
  • coconut oil, ground cloves and cardamom

What to do with roasted seeds:
  • Use as a coating for fried chicken
  • Add to home made granola
  • Bake into granola bars
  • Top your yogurt
  • Mix into your oatmeal
  • Add to dry cereal
  • Put them in trail mix
  • Add to smoothies
  • Use in whole grain and seed breads
  • Add to muffins, coffee cake, and other baked goods
  • Add to salads
  • Use them in pesto
  • And, of course, you can just munch on them by themselves!

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