The ultimate healthy snack 2 ways: Spicy Sweet and Salty Seeds

Aren't these little seeds beautiful? I love their color! Sunburst green or something crazy l...


Aren't these little seeds beautiful? I love their color! Sunburst green or something crazy like that. I have been so into pumpkin seeds lately -- buying huge bags of raw pepitas and sprinkling them on everything from salad to pasta to quinoa. They are a lovely crunchy snack that makes you feel great thanks to a ton of vegan protein, and essential vitamins and minerals.

I have been eating pumpkin seeds often for years -- especially after developing an allergy to tree-nuts as an adult.  I think that roasted pumpkin seed butter is off-the-charts awesome. I use it as a healthy alternative to peanut butter as well as add it to a variety of savory meals. Pepitas are a major component of Mexican cuisine so adding them to something like tacos or chilli is a no-brainer in my opinion and really ramps up the depth of flavor. In fact, I have done just that -- click here for a great quinoa chili recipe that involves pumpkin seed butter. I also like using them in vegan cheeze sauce recipes. The pumpkin seed butter provides the cheeze sauce with a nice nutty richness and really rounds out the flavor. Click here for a nice chili cheeze sauce recipe that uses pumpkin seed butter.
  Before developing a tree-nut allergy I actually ate tree-nuts all the time! I really loved them and as a vegetarian they played a major role in my diet. I am so sad that I never got to experiment with cashew cheese and all the other new tree-nut wonders. When I still ate them, I would often buy huge bags of spicy or candied cashews or almonds to snack on all day. My dad loves nuts of all kinds as well so growing up we always had them on hand for snacks. I miss those days! When I moved to Europe after University I would visit several great farmer's markets often...

 
Rainbow food vendor, Spitalfield's Market, London, UK


Japanese food stall, Spitalfield's Market, London, UK


The markets in London and Vienna impressed me the most and I would usually track down stalls selling nuts and dried fruit in countless varieties. My favorite was a market vendor in London who frequently appeared in several large markets, selling amazing candied nuts and interesting dried fruits like apple pie spiced dried apples and yogurt covered walnuts (which tasted like white chocolate fudge)! 

Amazing fruit and nut vendor, London, UK
Everything was so amazing! I swear I still dream about candied nuts. But luckily for me I am not allergic to peanuts or to seeds so I can still enjoy tasty things like pumpkin seed butter when I am hit hard with a tree-nut craving.


Today's post isn't about pumpkin seed butter, its about pumpkin seeds! These amazing seeds are plucked from the bellies of beautiful pumpkins, cleaned and sold raw or roasted (sometimes even spicy) at healthfood stores and grocery stores. They are a food that has been praised for centuries by many cultures. These days they are gaining in mainstream popularity as a potent superfood and are being used as a crunchy addition to cereals, salads, entrees and desserts.They are incredibly high in protein and yet are the most alkaline-forming seed making them a miraculous food for people on high-protein diets who are concerned about their bodies becoming too acidic.  

Pumpkin seeds are packed with vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, B, C and Ezinc, magnesium, iron, selenium, calcium and copper. They are also suspected to contain as much tryptophan as milk, and cucurbitan -- making them anti-parasitic. Some countries I have ventured to are famous for their pumpkin seeds. Years ago, when I was living in the UK, I traveled through Eastern Europe and spent some time visiting Austria and Slovenia. These two countries really love pumpkin seeds and grow them and sell them there raw, roasted and as pumpkinseed oil. They revere their cold pressed pumpkin seed oil as one of the healthiest oils available. I happened upon a pumpkin festival while I was in Europe and got to sample what is referred to as 'Styrian Gold' -- cold pressed pumpkin seed oil from Austria. It tastes amazingly nutty and rich and is a gorgeous deep green color. The festival provided pamphlets about how insanely good for you it is as well. I was hooked. Unfortunately it's somewhat hard to find in Canada and when you find it, it invariably has a steep price tag attached, so I have yet to buy it here. But I hope that doesn't stop you! It's really delicious and very nutritious as well. And who knows, maybe I will pick some up...right now...



I digress. Back to pumpkin seeds! Today's recipes -- that's right, you're getting two -- are dedicated to this humble little seed. I have made two recipes with nearly identical ingredients but totally distinct results. The first recipe is for chili-maple-cumin toasted pumpkin seeds. The seeds are coated in a spicy, sweet and salty glaze and then get toasted to perfection on your stovetop in the blink of an eye. 


The prep work couldn't be simpler -- whisk everything but the pumpkin seeds together in a bowl, add the seeds and stir to coat. Heat up your pan and stir them around for a minute and you're done. Enjoy them warm and sticky right away or pop them in the fridge or freezer to enjoy a crunchy and sticky treat in minutes. These candied lightly toasted seeds taste anything but healthy and remind me of my farmer's market days and nibbling on bags of candied and maple coated cashews, almonds and walnuts. 

 
The second recipe is nearly the same only I left out the cumin and left the seeds raw for optimal nutrition! It sounds like I'm talking about marinating pumpkin seeds, but I took it a step further. Once I marinated the seeds I put them in the freezer. I had a good feeling that the sugars would crystallize and create a candy effect. Sure enough, after about 20 minutes on ice these seeds became sticky and crunchy like their toasted relatives. Deliciously sweet, spicy and nutty. Their flavor is very different from the first recipe. 

I think I have such strong and insanely fond memories of tree-nuts because they are such a portable snack -- you can really take them anywhere and I have taken them and purchased them on some of my best adventures abroad (like the time I bought toasted chestnuts in a dense forrest beside a glacial lake in Slovenia) -- and the same goes for these seeds! Pack them in a lunch, or just put them in a bag to fuel your next journey! 



Maple Chili Cumin Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Makes ¾ of a cup
  • 3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup + 1 tsp
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp evoo
  • 2 dashes coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
Mix all ingredients (except 1 tsp maple and pumpkin seeds) together thoroughly.
Add the pumpkin seeds and stir to coat.
Heat a stir fry pan over high heat. Add the pumpkin seed mix and stir fry until the seeds seem to caramelize (should happen quickly). If the bottom of the pan starts to burn remove the seeds as the burnt flavor will be absorbed by them,
Transfer the seeds to a bowl and coat with the 1 tsp maple. Stir. Set in freezer 10 minutes then store in fridge.



Pumpkin seeds are abundantly high in the important trace mineral zinc. Zinc is critical for prostate health in men, and pregnant and lactating women need zinc as it is crucial for fetal development. Zinc is also important for wound healing, our sense of taste and smell, and vision. People with poor night vision are often found to be deficient in zinc. - See more at: http://www.sunfood.com/blog/articles-and-information/superfood-articles/pumpkin-seeds/powerful-superfood-nutrition-packed-pumpkin-seeds/#sthash.KdxNWcyg.dpuf
Pumpkin seeds are abundantly high in the important trace mineral zinc. Zinc is critical for prostate health in men, and pregnant and lactating women need zinc as it is crucial for fetal development. Zinc is also important for wound healing, our sense of taste and smell, and vision. People with poor night vision are often found to be deficient in zinc. - See more at: http://www.sunfood.com/blog/articles-and-information/superfood-articles/pumpkin-seeds/powerful-superfood-nutrition-packed-pumpkin-seeds/#sthash.KdxNWcyg.dpuf
Pumpkin seeds are abundantly high in the important trace mineral zinc. Zinc is critical for prostate health in men, and pregnant and lactating women need zinc as it is crucial for fetal development. Zinc is also important for wound healing, our sense of taste and smell, and vision. People with poor night vision are often found to be deficient in zinc. - See more at: http://www.sunfood.com/blog/articles-and-information/superfood-articles/pumpkin-seeds/powerful-superfood-nutrition-packed-pumpkin-seeds/#sthash.KdxNWcyg.dpuf
Pumpkin seeds are abundantly high in the important trace mineral zinc. Zinc is critical for prostate health in men, and pregnant and lactating women need zinc as it is crucial for fetal development. Zinc is also important for wound healing, our sense of taste and smell, and vision. People with poor night vision are often found to be deficient in zinc.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with vitamin A, B, C, and E. They contain calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, and copper, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs). These EFAs are especially effective in lowering cholesterol levels, and can help with weight loss by regulating lipid metabolism and breaking down fatty tissues. Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids in the human diet. In fact it is estimated that pumpkin seeds contain as much tryptophan as milk.
- See more at: http://www.sunfood.com/blog/articles-and-information/superfood-articles/pumpkin-seeds/powerful-superfood-nutrition-packed-pumpkin-seeds/#sthash.KdxNWcyg.dpuf
Pumpkin seeds are abundantly high in the important trace mineral zinc. Zinc is critical for prostate health in men, and pregnant and lactating women need zinc as it is crucial for fetal development. Zinc is also important for wound healing, our sense of taste and smell, and vision. People with poor night vision are often found to be deficient in zinc.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with vitamin A, B, C, and E. They contain calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, and copper, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs). These EFAs are especially effective in lowering cholesterol levels, and can help with weight loss by regulating lipid metabolism and breaking down fatty tissues. Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids in the human diet. In fact it is estimated that pumpkin seeds contain as much tryptophan as milk.
- See more at: http://www.sunfood.com/blog/articles-and-information/superfood-articles/pumpkin-seeds/powerful-superfood-nutrition-packed-pumpkin-seeds/#sthash.KdxNWcyg.dpuf
Pumpkin seeds are abundantly high in the important trace mineral zinc. Zinc is critical for prostate health in men, and pregnant and lactating women need zinc as it is crucial for fetal development. Zinc is also important for wound healing, our sense of taste and smell, and vision. People with poor night vision are often found to be deficient in zinc.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with vitamin A, B, C, and E. They contain calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, and copper, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs). These EFAs are especially effective in lowering cholesterol levels, and can help with weight loss by regulating lipid metabolism and breaking down fatty tissues. Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids in the human diet. In fact it is estimated that pumpkin seeds contain as much tryptophan as milk.
- See more at: http://www.sunfood.com/blog/articles-and-information/superfood-articles/pumpkin-seeds/powerful-superfood-nutrition-packed-pumpkin-seeds/#sthash.KdxNWcyg.dpu
Pumpkin seeds are abundantly high in the important trace mineral zinc. Zinc is critical for prostate health in men, and pregnant and lactating women need zinc as it is crucial for fetal development. Zinc is also important for wound healing, our sense of taste and smell, and vision. People with poor night vision are often found to be deficient in zinc.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with vitamin A, B, C, and E. They contain calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, and copper, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs). These EFAs are especially effective in lowering cholesterol levels, and can help with weight loss by regulating lipid metabolism and breaking down fatty tissues. Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids in the human diet. In fact it is estimated that pumpkin seeds contain as much tryptophan as milk.
- See more at: http://www.sunfood.com/blog/articles-and-information/superfood-articles/pumpkin-seeds/powerful-superfood-nutrition-packed-pumpkin-seeds/#sthash.KdxNWcyg.dpuf

Raw Chili Maple Pumpkin Seeds
Makes ⅔ cup
  • 2/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp evoo
  • 2 dashes coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
Stir all ingredients together in a bowl except for the pumpkin seeds. Add the seeds and stir. Store in freezer 10 minutes then transfer to fridge.






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