Power to the Pumpkin Seed

The approach of Fall was nearing with visions of pumpkins dancing in our heads (oops, wrong month for that expression) and one of our favorite Autumnal snacks is pumpkin seeds. So the minute Russ and I laid our eyes on this Sweet and Salty Pumpkin Seed Clusters recipe in a lifestyle magazine, we knew we had to make them. But it should come with a warning – you will NOT be able to stop eating these! The intoxicating combination of salty, honey sweetness, and pumpkin pie spices is seriously addictive.

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Fortunately these delicious little clusters are a relatively healthy treat because pumpkin seeds are one of the best plant sources of zinc, a mineral that is important for optimum immune function. Yes, there is refined sugar and honey in them, so you must be somewhat cognizant of how many you are consuming—but it will be difficult.

Also known as “pepita”—a Mexican Spanish term, these shell-free seeds are flat and oval in shape, and have a greenish color. Unlike the hard white seeds from a carving pumpkin, most pumpkin seeds bought from the supermarket do not have a shell, so use the raw green ones for the recipe. Not hard enough or tough enough to be called a brittle, these morsels have more of a cereal cluster consistency with a tad more crunch.

There are roughly 151 calories in an ounce, mainly from good fat and protein; and they are a great source of dietary fiber, woohoo! Another plus—animal studies have shown that pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed powder and pumpkin juice can reduce blood sugar. This is especially important for people with diabetes, who may struggle to control their blood sugar levels.

And if like me you have trouble sleeping, you may want to eat some pumpkin seeds before bed. They’re a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can help promote sleep—although it’s hard to imagine how these exciting little clusters could encourage the Zzzzs…

I made a double batch first time out of the gate and was glad I did, we loved them! Apparently so did Russ’s coworkers. I sent a small bunch to work with him, and within hours of his departure he emailed me asking when I planned to post the blog because his colleagues wanted the recipe. My guess is, you’ll love them too!

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, preferably fresh
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch of ground cloves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss together the pumpkin seeds, honey, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt until everything is thoroughly combined.
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  3. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, rotating the pan front to back halfway through the cooking time for even browning.
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  4. Let the pumpkin seeds cool completely before breaking into clusters. Package them in a sealed jar or bag for gifting. Can be kept for up to 1 week (if they last that long!) in a sealed container.
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