By Diane Hackett
Thanksgiving is just around the corner with pumpkin pies about to fill the air with their spicy warmth. Remember pumpkin seeds — and squash seeds as well — ought to be saved, as they are a tasty treat and good for your health as well.
Pumpkin seeds (cucurbita pepo) are highly nutritious, containing significant amounts of protein, calcium phosphorus, potassium, Vitamin A, zinc and fiber. They also contain modest amounts of sodium, iron, copper, magnesium, folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, along with some essential fatty acids and antioxidants. They are quite tasty when roasted and make a wonderful, nutritious snack on their own or added to a trail mix or even mixed into granola or cookies.
Medicinally, pumpkin seeds are used to soothe irritable urinary bladders and other irritated tissues; combined with uva ursi and other herbs for urinary tract infections and kidney inflammation; and to rid the body of parasites, especially tapeworms. In folk medicine, the seeds and husks are used to aid lactating women and to reduce the postpartum swelling of the hands and feet. The later effect is most probably due to their diuretic action. Because of their diuretic and anti-inflammatory effects, pumpkin seeds are also useful in reducing gout. The high levels of zinc make pumpkin seeds useful for acne — especially when combined with other herbs. Zinc allows for the release of stored Vitamin A from the liver into the bloodstream and is as useful as a zinc supplement when eaten on a regular basis. The seeds are also useful as a natural, gentle laxative that can be soothing to irritated bowels.
Pumpkin seeds can be eaten raw or roasted or grind them up and make them into a tea.
To prepare seeds direct from a pumpkin or squash:
- Scoop the seeds and the surrounding filaments from the fruit
- Clean and discard the filament from the seeds
- Pat the seeds dry with a paper towel. You don’t need to rinse them.
- Spread the seeds out on a cookie sheet
- Leave them to dry at room temperature for a few days or at least overnight
- Dry roast them until golden brown or mix with a little olive oil and salt
- Roast in your oven until golden.
- Be sure the seeds are cool and dry before placing them in an airtight container
- Freeze them or keep refrigerated to prevent the pumpkin seeds from going rancid. Enjoy the abundance of our harvest time and don’t forget to give thanks to the plants and animals who help to nurture us and heal us.