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The Trick of a Not-So-Sweet Treat

It can be hard working at home sometimes. You know, like when there’s a humongous cauldron full of M&Ms and Almond Joys sitting only a half a house length away. Beckoning. Yesterday I moved the candy into the pantry in hopes of it being out of sight, out of mind. But then this morning I needed something in the pantry… So, instead of sitting around obsessing about it, I ripped open a Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkin, savored it, forgave myself, and then got to work roasting pumpkin seeds.

When I mentioned this to some friends, I was surprised by how many people don’t do it — roast pumpkin seeds, that is. (Everyone eats the candy, right? Right?) To me, roasted pumpkin seeds are one of the best treats of Halloween, especially since they’re kind of free (you’ve already hit the pumpkin patch). The fresh-roasted ones are much better than the packaged ones, which are so salty and I’m sure full of unpronounceable ingredients.

Not only are pumpkin seeds crunchy and salty and completely addictive, but they are packed with health benefits. Pumpkin seeds are high in protein, fiber, anti-oxidants, and minerals such as magnesium. They have natural anti-inflammatory properties and can possibly reduce stress and help you sleep because they contain the amino acids tryptophan and glutamate, both of which have positive effects on brain chemistry (and are rarely found in plant-based foods). Although pumpkin seeds are high in fat and calories, it’s the good kind of fat — the mono-unsaturated kind that helps prevent heart disease and diabetes — and I’ll go out on a limb here and wager they don’t have any more calories than Milky Way bars.

Little containers of these will make great snacks for my sugar-addled children to take to school the reminder of this week — not to mention help keep my hands out of the candy cauldron.

When several of my friends said they never had any luck roasting pumpkin seeds — that theirs always ended up burned or weirdly chewy or just tasting bad — I decided to pay attention to how I do it and give some detailed instructions. So, if you haven’t cleaned out that pumpkin yet in preparation for carving your Denver Broncos horse or award-winning Darth Maul face, here’s what so do with those seeds!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Seeds from your Harry Potter Jack-O-Lantern(s)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Garlic powder
Other spices such as chili powder, cayenne, or cumin (optional but delicious)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. When you clean out your pumpkins, put all the guts and seeds in a large bowl. Transfer to a colander and rinse well. If there’s pumpkin pulp stuck to the seeds, you can remove the larger pieces but don’t worry too much about it; it mostly cooks off in the oven and I think it adds a little extra flavor anyway. Add one tablespoon of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt, and a few shakes of garlic powder (I used about 1 tbs. of oil for one pumpkin’s worth of seeds, add more if necessary), mix well to coat all the seeds. Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer (the seeds of one largish pumpkin filled one large baking sheet). Bake for 25 minutes, remove from oven and shake or stir the seeds. Bake for 5-8 minutes more until the seeds are lightly browned but not burned. Let cool on a paper towel–covered surface.

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