Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pepitas -- Pumpkin Seeds

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.


Pumpkins seeds
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!


Michele said...

I've been hooked on pepitas ever since my uncle made a steak and blue cheese salad and then topped it with pepitas and sliced onion. I was 12 years old and in heaven. I love the fact that they blend in so well with other ingredients. They never overpower a dish.
And it's great to hear that something I enjoy is actually good for me. :-)

Reeni said...

I love pepitas! I tried to eat the hull and it just doesn't taste good, and their so hard to chew. Thanks for all the flavoring ideas, the savory and the halloween flavors are especially appealing to me.

Adam said...

Awesome post Teresa. I had no idea they were such a great source of Zinc. Zinc is a mineral we really can't have too much of, it does so many things for us.

I also didn't know you can actually dehull them. I always just eat the whole thing... good thing it's ok that way :)

Foodycat said...

Another fascinating post! Thanks for the tip about boiling them in salted water first.

Ivy said...

I love these seeds and we call them by their Italian name "passa tempo", translated as pass your time (while chewing :) ) but never made any myself. Thanks for all the tips and shall try and make some next time.

VG said...


Love the idea of the chilli Pepitas. Mr G and I had a good chuckle over your word of the day. We loved it! You are too funny my dear.

Dee said...

I love pepitas. Even love saying it :) I usually use it in bread, and I've also made a pepita brittle that unfortunately contributed to my newly ample posterior. Thanks for the recipe.

ARLENE said...

Hi, Teresa. Oh, I miss pepitas. Diverticulosis has put that on the list of no go'sfor me. Please stop by my blog to pick up an eAward that I'd like to pass on to you. Natasha at Healthy and Gourmet was sweet enough to pass it on to me and yours is one of my favorite blogs, so I'd like to return the favor.

Debinhawaii said...

I love pumpkin seeds--its the only part of pumpkin I like. Thanks for the great recipes and an interesting post!

Dibs said...

Hi Teresa. Its been a while since I cam by, and now catching up with all your posts! This is very informative. I haven't tried pumkin seeds. They look like good cruncy snacks!

Hi there! I'm Leslie... said...

I sent you an award because I just love your blog. I will be making pepitas soon!

You can get your award at my blog:

Kelly said...

I agree, I had no idea you could dehull them although I always wondered why the pepitas I bought at the store were smaller and green in comparion to the ones that come directly out of my pumpkin. This is going to be a silly question, but bear with me. If I dehull the pumpkin seeds will they look like the store bought green pepitas? I rather like the hull. It's very crunchy.

Kelly said...

I agree, I had no idea you could dehull them although I always wondered why the pepitas I bought at the store were smaller and green in comparion to the ones that come directly out of my pumpkin. This is going to be a silly question, but bear with me. If I dehull the pumpkin seeds will they look like the store bought green pepitas? I rather like the hull. It's very crunchy.

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