SUPERFOOD: PUMPKIN SEEDS
By Stefanie Cassetto
Let’s face it. Most of us are concerned with our outward appearance. We want to look good. If we are honest, many of us have probably taken extreme measures to achieve beauty on the outside at one time or another. Make-up, clothing, and hair color all play a part in helping us feel better about the way we look. One of our greatest assets to a healthy looking exterior is our skin. And most of us go to great lengths to take protect it and help it stay young with sunscreen, lotions, and toners—all things that go on the outside.
When it comes to healthy-looking skin, nutrition is the obvious answer. Creating radiant, youthful-looking skin is one of the best ways to change our outward appearance and can be accomplished by focusing on what’s inside.
This week’s superfood is traditionally a fall favorite. Although fall is still quite a ways off—pumpkin seeds provide healthy Omega 3’s and zinc for our skin and can be enjoyed all year long. No need to wait for October! These sweet seeds with a chewy texture are one of the most nutritious seeds around. Pumpkin seed oil is loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids and helps to keep your hair shiny and your skin clear.
Zinc is also an essential nutrient for keeping our skin looking great! It is important for skin repair and injury repair. Most Americans are deficient in zinc. It helps to battle acne as well as aids in proper skin cell construction. It is also known for speeding the regeneration of new skin following injuries such as scrapes, scratches or cuts. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc.
Pumpkins seeds are also linked to other health benefits. They promote prostate health, protect bones, lower cholesterol, and show anti-inflammatory benefits. They are packed with important minerals such as magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, copper, and protein.
Pumpkin seeds can be eaten raw, baked, roasted or toasted. They make a great snack—easy to take with you to work or the beach. Keep the seeds stored in a tightly sealed container in your fridge. You can also add them to sautéed vegetables or sprinkle on top of a salad. They can be added to your cereals, or can be used in cookies or homemade granola bars.
Start snacking on pumpkin seeds and help your skin stay healthy. Just ¼ to ½ cup of these nutty tasting seeds can help you get the right amount of zinc and unsaturated fatty acids in your diet.
ROASTED PUMPKIN SEED SPREAD
Thanks to www.glutenfreegirl.com for this recipe.
Link to recipe: http://glutenfreegirl.com/roasted-pumpkin-seed-spread/
- 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds you have scooped out of your pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400*. Fill a large pot with 8 cups of water. Add the pumpkin seeds and salt. Set the pot to boil over high heat. Bring the water to a rolling boil and allow it to boil for a moment. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the pumpkin seeds simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the water from the seeds.
Put a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Pour the olive oil on the parchment paper and spread it out with your hands. Put the seeds on lightly-oiled parchment. Sprinkle them with the smoked paprika, ginger, and pepper. Slide them into the oven and cook until the seeds have browned to your liking, about 10 to 20 minutes. (I roasted them for 12 minutes.) Take them out of the oven, let them cool, and eat.
The Spread (approximate measurements–use your best judgment)
- 2 cups toasted pumpkin seeds
- about 1/4-cup olive oil
- juice of 1 large lemon
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 16 ounces chickpeas (they taste best if you cook them yourself, but canned works too)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Put the pumpkin seeds into the bowl of a food processor. Turn on the processor and start to break up the pumpkin seeds. As the processor is running, pour in the olive oil, slowly, until you have a thick paste. (The seeds will still be a bit noticeable, rather than entirely smooth. Turn off the food processor.
After you have formed the paste, squeeze in the lemon juice. Throw in the garlic and the chickpeas. Turn on the processor and whirl it all up until you have the thick consistency of hummus. You might need to add more olive oil, as the processor is running, depending on the texture you like. When you have the consistency you want, sprinkle in the smoked paprika and run the processor until the paprika is fully incorporated. Take the spread out of the food processor and let it sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop fully.
Eat with crackers or vegetables or whatever you want.