There’s finally a chill in the air here in Philadelphia and signs of fall are everywhere – leaves are starting to turn slightly and fall, the days are getting shorter, people are flocking to farms to gather their pumpkins and gourds, and you can pretty much get a Pumpkin Latte on every corner.
I don’t typically carve my pumpkins for Halloween. I leave the fall themed decor going through Thanksgiving. After the holiday, I’ll hack up all of the pumpkins and squashes that I have throughout the house and roast them. I then have a nice freezer full of pumpkin puree for smoothies, and soups.
Depending on how lazy or not I am feeling, I’ll also save the seeds and roast them. I recently discovered how amazingly good for you the seeds are so those babies are not going in the compost bucket this year!
Some of the great health benefits of pumpkin seeds include:
- High in fiber – diets high in fiber show a decrease in the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
- Heart healthy magnesium – magnesium is responsible for 60 chemical reactions in the body, it helps control blood pressure and reduces risk of heart disease , and can help raises HDL – the “good cholesterol”.
- High in antioxidants – protects us against disease and helps reduce inflammation.
- Improves prostate and bladder health – can decrease symptoms of benign prostate enlargement and an overactive bladder
- Improve Sleep – good source of Tryptophan, and may promote good sleep.
- Zinc – great for boosting the immune system.
These little nutritional powerhouses are really easy to incorporate in to your diet. They are really tasty sprinkled on salads, soups, cereal, yogurt, used in baking or my favorite way, just by the handful.
Optimally, they are best eaten raw to preserve the healthy fats. You can soak them/sprout them to reduce the phytic acid which makes all of the great nutrients less bioavailable. Food dehydrators are great for giving you that crunch without disturbing the fats. If you do roast them (which I do), you can roast them on a low temperature like 170 for about 20 minutes and then season with some sea salt or whatever seasonings you like (I’m a sucker for Cajun spice and garlic powder).
If you’re not surrounded by pumpkins and gourds at home, like I am right now, you can also easily buy them in most stores now.
See you in the pumpkin patch!