Food and Produce Guides/ Healthy Kitchen

Pumpkin Seeds: Health Benefits and Tips on Using Them

Sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are high in protein and have a unique flavor that makes them especially enticing to eat as a snack, unadorned. When buying pumpkin seeds, you can choose between raw or roasted, shelled or unshelled, salted or unsalted. Roasting brings out their flavor and crunch, and you can easily roast them at home. Roasted pumpkin seeds are often marketed as pepitas.

If you’ll be using them primarily as a snack, but them in the shell. They’re more economical that way, and the extra time it takes to shell them will help limit the number eaten in one sitting. Avoid salted pumpkin seeds, which are usually quite salty, causing their flavor to be masked rather than enhanced. Pumpkin seeds in the shell keep well for several months stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Store shelled pumpkin seeds in the refrigerator if you don’t think they’ll be used up within 2 months.

Pumpkin seeds are 46 percent fat. The proportion of polyunsaturated fat is slightly greater than that of monounsaturated, with only a small percentage of it saturated fat. They are an impressive 29 percent protein. One cup contains 774 calories; one ounce contains 148 calories. Pumpkin seeds are quite high in phosphorous and iron and contain modest amounts of several B vitamins. 

Don’t throw away seeds from your fall pumpkins! Rinse them well of the pulp and fibers and spread them on baking sheets or pans to dry for a week or so, stirring them daily. When they are completely dry, bake them at 300 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until fragrant. 

Apart from their preferred use as a snack, pumpkin seeds may be used in many ways that nuts are commonly used. The ideas given below are for toasted shelled seeds: 

  • Use pumpkin seeds in dried fruit-and-nut mixes. They’re particularly good when mixed with raisins, dried apricots, and soy nuts.
  • Sprinkle a tablespoon or so over a serving of cold cereal. 
  • Coarsely chop about 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds and add to batters for an average quick breads and muffin recipe. Try them in corn muffins.
  • A handful of pumpkin seeds tossed into grain pilafs, green salads, and pasta salads will add an unusual flavor twist.
  • Use pumpkin seeds to garnish steamed vegetables, such as cauliflower, or the pumpkin’s kindred vegetables–the squashes.

Here are some of VegKitchen’s pumpkin seed recipes:

Candied Pumpkin Seeds


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  • Reply
    Julie Lafferty
    August 28, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    please help. I bought pumpkin seeds of r the very first time. They are whitish in color and very salty. What can I do with them to make them less salty but tasty.

    • Reply
      August 28, 2015 at 10:13 pm

      Hi Julie — sounds like you bought pumpkin seeds in the shell that are heavily salted. Simply crack them gently and take the green seed out of its salty shell. Next time, to save all that time and trouble (and salt!), buy shelled pumpkin seeds, which are often marketed as “pepitas.”

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