, its nutritional benefits and how to prepare it
Pumpkin seeds, sometimes referred to as pepitas, are a nutty and delicious snack often enjoyed in the fall season. This nutrient-dense, carbohydrate-fat-protein-rich seed offers numerous health benefits in addition to its delightful flavor and crunch. So, let’s dive deeper into the world of pumpkin seeds to explore all the wonderful aspects of this flavorful snack.
First, what exactly is a pumpkin seed? Pumpkin seeds come from the same type of pumpkin typically used for jack-o’-lanterns and pie filling. The seeds are just the fruit's inner seeds, which have a white inner husk, a crunchy brown outer shell, and a chewy green interior. The seeds must be removed from the pumpkins, washed, and then dried or toasted to enhance the flavor. The seeds can also be ground into flour or paste to make various recipes.
Nutritionally, pumpkin seeds are packed with essential nutrients. They are an excellent source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for human health. Additionally, they contain magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and iron. These minerals are important for bones and teeth health, nerve and muscle function, hormone production, and other metabolic processes. Plus, because of their low sugar content, pumpkin seeds make an excellent snack for those on a low-sugar diet.
Pumpkin seeds contain a wealth of vitamins and antioxidants that can help boost your immune system. They are rich in vitamin E, an important antioxidant that helps protect our cells from free radical damage caused by environmental toxins. Pumpkin seeds are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, which supports proper digestion and helps us feel fuller for longer.
In addition to these incredible nutritional benefits, pumpkin seeds also bring a unique taste and texture to dishes. Toasted pumpkin seeds can be added on their own to salads or snacks, or they can be used to add crunch and flavor to soups, curries, and stews. For a sweet treat, try mixing them with oats and honey, and then toasting the mixture in the oven.
If you’d like to enjoy the incredible health perks of pumpkin seeds, here’s how to properly prepare them. Start by cleaning the seeds. Remove them from the pumpkin if necessary and rinse them to get rid of any slimy bits. Allow the seeds to dry, then spread them out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of oil, and sprinkle with salt or other spices to taste. Next, bake the seeds at 350°F for about 30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so to prevent burning. Once golden brown, remove them from the oven and let them cool completely before eating.
Pumpkin seeds make a tasty snack that can help you stay full, provide essential nutrients, and offer powerful antioxidants. What’s not to love? So next time you’re at the grocery store or farmers market, grab some pumpkin seeds and give them a try!
Imagine a vibrant pumpkin patch in late September, surrounded by a rainbow of brightly colored fruits and vegetables – many of which have pumpkin seeds as their foundation. Each stem of a pumpkin is a vital link in an intricate system which ultimately leads to a pumpkin seed ending up on one’s dinner plate. It’s a fascinating journey that starts in the mind of the gardener, involves the energy of photosynthesis, and takes advantage of several organ systems within the pumpkin itself. Let’s explore how a pumpkin seed is created and sent out to the culinary world.
In the minds of many avid gardeners, pumpkin plants call to be planted as soon as the warm weather begins to roll around in the spring. Gardeners will place the seed in freshly turned and amended soil, typically with a spacing of six-feet between the plants. The soil needs to be well-draining to reduce the potential for rot, and warm soil temperatures will ensure quick and healthy germination. Pumpkin seeds then need a long season of warmth and plenty of rainfall or supplemental irrigation during dry spells. Pest and disease prevention should be managed in an environmentally-friendly manner to maximize health and minimize risks to neighboring organisms.
Once planted and nurtured, the pumpkin seed will begin the process of producing a pumpkin. In order to do this, the seed will employ photosynthesis, a process in which energy from the sun is converted into chemical energy in the form of sugars and starches. These molecules are then used to fuel the pumpkin’s growth, first by assisting in small cell division and mitotic division for vegetative growth before focusing on flower production and sexual reproduction. To produce flowers, the seed will covert solar into hormones like auxins and gibberellins which promote flowering and pollination.
After pollination, the pumpkin seed will focus on its primary purpose: the production of the fruit itself. During the days leading up to it, growth hormones are released that promote cell division in the developing fruit, and provide cells the necessary energy to create the starches and proteins required for a healthy pumpkin. As the pumpkin grows, tissues like the pericarp and endocarp are produced which provide the fruit with its outer and inner coverings, respectively. Slowly but surely, the pumpkin takes shape, as a large and distinctive structure ready to house its seeds in a few months time.
As the days of autumn roll around, the fruit will start to ripen, turning orange and taking on that classic pumpkin shape. At this point, the pumpkin has hopefully finished pollinating and growing. Inside its fibers and chambers, though, the organic machinery is bustling. This is when the creation of the pumpkin seed starts to take place.
The first thing to happen is that the yolk of the seed is formed. Small glandular hairs grow out from the endocarp and deposit it into with the micropyle, a small invagination, found in the carpel wall. This is the male part of the plant’s reproductive system, and the ovary, or the female part, soon follows. The ovary produces the ovules, which will house the seeds. The ovule is connected to the ovary wall by an exposed area called the placenta. The placenta is where the release of enzymes and hormones will commence, allowing the seed to develop its membrane and other internal structures.
As the seed matures, it continues to draw energy from the ovary, filling it up with starch and other nutrients. When it is ready, the seed is pushed out of the ovary wall and down below the placenta. From here, the seed will continue to draw energy from the parent plant, but it is now essentially complete. All that remains is the baby pumpkin to ripen and to be ready to be chopped off the vine and be sold at the farmer’s market or used straight from the garden.
At the farmer’s market or off the plant, the seeds have dried and can easily be scooped out and taken on their journey to the final destination: the dinner plate. To get there, the pumpkin seed needs to be cleaned and roasted. Many gardeners simply put them in a bowl of water and sweep away any debris, before transferring them to a hot skillet for roasting. With a little salt and oil, the pumpkin seed will soon be ready to eat.
From the gardener’s mind to the dinner plate, pumpkin seeds have undergone a remarkable journey. In nature, they illustrate the power of photosynthesis and organismal growth, and in the kitchen, they make for a tasty and nutritious snack. Through their incredible reproductive and nutritional capacity, we can appreciate the biology of the pumpkin, and make better use of it in the kitchen as well.
|Vitamin A||0.001 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.00218 grams|
|Vitamin K||0.0073 mg|
|Vitamin C||0.0019 grams|
|Vitamin B1||0.27 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.15 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.00499 grams|
|Vitamin B4||0.063 grams|
|Vitamin B5||0.75 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.14 mg|
|Vitamin B9||0.058 mg|
Daily Value 1.3 g
Daily Value 0.018 g
Daily Value 0.4 g
Daily Value 1.25 g
Daily Value 4.7 g
Daily Value 2.3 g
Daily Value 0.011 g
Daily Value 0.9 mg
Daily Value 0.0023 g
Daily Value 0.055 mg
|Aspartic Acid||2.96 grams|
|Glutamic Acid||6.188 grams|
|Total Sugars||1.4 grams||
|Lauric acid (12:0)||0.01 grams||
|Myristic acid (14:0)||0.06 grams||
|Palmitic acid (16:0)||5.36 grams||
|Stearic acid (18:0)||2.87 grams||
|Arachidic acid (20:0)||0.21 grams||
|Behenic acid (22:0)||0.06 grams||
|Lignoceric acid (24:0)||0.04 grams||
|Total Saturated fatty acids:||8.61 g|
|Nervonic acid (24:1)||0.01 grams||
|Oleic acid (18:1)||16.13 grams||
|Palmitoleic acid (16:1)||0.05 grams||
|Gadoleic acid (20:1)||0.06 grams||
|Total Monounsaturated fatty acids:||16.25 g|
|Omega-3 Alpha-linolenic acid (18:3)||0.12 grams||
|Linolenic acid (18:3)||0.12 grams||
|Linoleic acid (18:2)||20.71 grams||
|Total Polyunsaturated fatty acids:||20.95 g|
|Trans-monoenoic fatty acids||0.03 grams||
|Total Trans fat:||0.03 g|