We’ve seen a lot of recipes lately with “pepitas”. But what are pepitas? Pepitas are pumpkin seeds. And some of the recipes that have been created with these delicious little morsels are fantastically tasty. But there is so much more to pepitas.
For example, did you know that pumpkin seeds, the pepita, have been around since the time of the Aztecs? Together with maize (corn) and beans, these three food products are known as the “Three Sisters” for being among the earliest plants domesticated in the Western Hemisphere.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, which boosts the immune factors in the body. They also contain iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium that help lower cholesterol. Five to ten grams of pepitas can help with urinary problems and even assist in the prevention of prostate problems in men.
As with any food type containing natural oils, over consumption can contribute to weight gain. But my motto has always been all things in moderation. Moderation allows you to enjoy different foods and still maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Halloween is the perfect time to make your own pepitas. If you’ll look through your Mexican Foods isle in the supermarket, you’ll see that pepitas are sold and packaged as a snack item. They are sold roasted, plain, salted or with seasoning added, such as red chile powder. But if you’re carving up a jack o’lantern for the little ones, don’t waste the seeds. They are very easy to prepare and also good for you. Here is a simple recipe to follow in making your own seasoned pepitas. I’m also linking to Lori at Recipe Girl. She made some absolutely divine crackers topped with raw pepitas that roasted up rather nicely while the crackers were baking. She served these scrumptious crackers with some homemade Fresh Cranberry Jam. Man she's good! Please go to her site and you'll see what I mean.
Follow the Left-Over Queen's philosophy and make use of all foods. Waste at this point in our lives is nonsense. It’s like throwing money away. So, use every bit of what you have and enjoy.
If you like saltier or spicier pepitas, you might consider boiling them in salted water first before roasting them. This will help infuse the salt into the kernel. Just be sure and let them dry completely before roasting them. Also, if you aren’t planning on making a truck load of seeds, consider roasting them in an iron skillet on top of the stove instead of the oven.
One more thing. Did you know that many people eat their pepitas with the hull intact? Yep. They can be eaten this way. After all, the hull is what contains a lot of the nutrients and the fibrous texture helps with the digestive system. Personally, I prefer to shell them one at a time. This keeps me from eating far more than I should, and I just can’t fathom eating the hull…nutritious or not.
Olive or canola oil
Chile powder, garlic powder or other seasoning
Scoop out seeds from pumpkin cavity. Rinse the seeds using a colander, drain. Allow the seeds to dry. Add 1 tablespoon of oil for each cup of seeds. Mix until all seeds are well coated. Add salt, garlic and chile powder.
Spread on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 35 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Stir occasionally.
Optional variations on flavoring your pepitas:
Savory: 4 tablespoons melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Lemony: 4 tablespoons melted butter, 1 teaspoon 'Mrs. Dash" or lemon pepper
Halloweeny: 4 tablespoons melted butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Mexican Word of the Day:"HERPES"
When me and my homegirl split a churro, "herpes" is always bigger!