Pumpkin seeds are one of the easiest and most nutritious snacks to prepare at home. Bursting with micronutrients like magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E that help us fend off infection and keep our body resilient through the chilling autumn and winter months, pumpkin seeds are a smart addition to any meal or snack this time of year. Tossed with antioxidant rich spices and herbs, pumpkin seeds pack a whole-food punch, keeping us both healthy and satisfied.
As fall leaves reach peak foliage, their squash cousins arrive in a variety of colors: orange pumpkins, yellow gourds and brown butternut squash. As you rotate these into your cooking, don’t forget to scoop out those seeds and get roasting. Raid the spice cabinet to experiment with exciting flavor combinations, toss in a touch of oil, and toast for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. We used olive oil to roast our seeds, but recommend using any neutral-tasting, heat stable oil like avocado, canola, sunflower, or coconut.
1. Sea Salt and Pepper Pumpkin SeedsThe classic combination that never gets old. For each 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds, add 1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper (or to taste).
2. Ginger and Lime Pumpkin SeedsInspired by the refreshing Moscow Mule, ginger and lime play together for a flavor that is both bright and warming. Add 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice to raw pepitas before roasting. For extra lime flavor, squeeze half a lime over the roasted seeds, add the zest of one lime and a dash of sea salt.
3. Cinnamon and Sugar Pumpkin SeedsIt is hard to beat the sweet spiciness of sugar paired with cinnamon. The sugar crystals caramelize and form an incredible buttery layer on the seeds. Beyond enjoying them straight out of the oven, Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds add a sweet, nutritious crunch to oatmeal or ice cream as a topping. Mix equal parts cinnamon and sugar (for 1/2 cup of seeds, we used 1 teaspoon of each), and toss with oil before roasting.
4. Maple and Sea Salt Pumpkin SeedsAutumn unofficially welcomes maple as a staple flavor in New England and we just barely stop short of putting it on everything (we aren’t Canada, after all). The sweet flavor of maple is a natural pair for a briny bite of sea salt. Pair 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup with 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt (or more to taste) per 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds.
5. Cardamom and Cayenne Pumpkin SeedsFor a truly warming, herbal treat, pair the sweet and smoky flavors of dried cardamom and cayenne pepper (you only need a little!). The flavors layer, leaving you with a spicy kick that will keep you going back for more. For even more depth, add a touch of brown sugar to the mix and let your taste buds do a happy dance. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom with a pinch of cayenne. Add 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar if desired.
6. Mexican Cocoa Pumpkin SeedsWhen plain old chocolate gets boring, add a hit of spice. Perfect for your next chilly fall hike or festival, spicy Mexican chocolate warms from the inside out. Add a pinch of cayenne to 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder and toss with oil and 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds.
Roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious on their own, or perfect to throw in a trail mix, add to oatmeal or as a crunchy topping for your favorite muffins or quick breads. Try them on salads, in stir fries, or on top of braised greens. We used the shelled, raw pepitas, but feel free to use the seeds fresh out of the gourd with their white outer shell still attached.