5 Things to Do With Pumpkin Seeds

sick pumpkinI’ll be heading to the pumpkin patch this month with my kids, like many of you. Never mind the fact that they’re all teenagers now—they still love this tradition, and they’re happy to indulge me with a trip that always takes me back to their toddler years. There’s nothing cuter than a 3-year-old trying to carry a pumpkin bigger than her head.

And this brings up the question I’ve been asked every year, for the past 15 years or so: “Mom, what should we do with the pumpkin seeds?”

This Halloween season, I have a few answers other than, “I don’t know, leave them on the table and let me think about it.” Of course I threw them away eventually because I had no clue what to do. This year, I do.

First tip: Soak the pumpkin’s insides in water to quickly separate the seeds from the rest of the pulp. That’ll get the slimy stuff off of them.

Then I’m going to try a few of these:

toasted1. Toast them. Pumpkin seeds are a healthy snack—who knew? They’re high in protein and fiber, low in fat, packed with antioxidants and they work well with many different seasonings. Just toss the seeds with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Add a bit of coarse salt, or for a little spice, add a pinch of both chili powder and paprika before you bake the seeds.

2. Feed the birds. After separating the pulp and drying the seeds out, hang them in a bird feeder—because of the size of the seeds, you’ll likely attract larger birds. If you want to attract smaller birds, you can hull the seeds first.

3. Grow your own pumpkin patch. If you have some space in your garden, consider growing your own pumpkin patch. Keep your seeds from this year’s pumpkins and plant them after the final frost next year (usually mid-March to May, depending on where you live).

cinnamon pumpkin seed4. Search for recipes. Here’s a recipe I found for Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed Brittle that looks delicious and will, no doubt, be kid-approved in my house.

5. Add them to smoothies, salads and oatmeal. If you want to boost the nutritional value of your kids’ favorite smoothies, throw in some seeds when you’re blending the ingredients. It’s a great way to add protein without having to buy expensive powders or other ingredients that may radically change the flavor.

Any other pumpkin seed tips you’d like to share? What do you do with yours?