The Potent Power of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) are the edible kernels from the pumpkin fruit.
They are packed with nutrients including fibre, protein and omega 3 fatty acids.
These tasty little seeds are also a rich source vitamins and minerals essential for healthy childhood development.
In particular they are an excellent source of magnesium and zinc, two important minerals which are very often deficient in children who are fussy or problem eaters.
Both magnesium and zinc are very important for growing children, and deficiencies may cause a variety of health concerns including, but not limited to:
Low immune function (get sick easily and often)
Poor appetite, picky eaters with low interest in food
Poor growth and development
Poor sleep patterns
Mood and behavioural issues
Skin conditions, irritations and slow wound-healing
Pumpkin seeds are not only good for kids.
Zinc is known to be protective of the prostate as well as being a vital nutrient for both male and female fertility.
Zinc, magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids are also essential in pregnancy for the health of both the mother and the growing baby.
Pumpkin seeds have a direct effect on mood and sleep.
In addition to zinc and magnesium for sleep , they are a rich source of the amino acid tryptophan which is essential for the biosynthesis of the feel-good hormone serotonin. Serotonin is converted to the sleep hormone melatonin.
Pumpkin seeds contain sufficient amounts of nutrients to make significant health improvements and resolve symptoms associated with mineral deficiencies when included into the daily diet.
Whole, hulled raw pumpkin seeds are readily available and may be found in local supermarkets, health food shops and bulk food stores.
Raw pumpkin seeds are incredibly versatile. They make a delicious snack mixed with other seeds and nuts. They can be added to salads, sprinkled on berries and yogurt, included in crumble topping, ground up and added into soups, frittatas, cakes, biscuits and pancakes.
Pumpkin Seed Crunch
250g (1.5 cups) raw, hulled Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
2 Tbsp hemp or sesame seeds
2 Tbsp Rice Malt Syrup
Pinch of sea salt
1. Lightly toast pumpkin seeds in a dry pan over low-medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently and be sure not to let them burn. They should start making slight popping sounds when they are ready.
2. In a mixing bowl add all of the seeds, salt and rice malt syrup. Stir well until combined, work fast. The heat from the pumpkin seeds will melt the rice syrup making it easy to mix but it will cool quickly.
3. Place the mixture onto a lined baking tray, spread out evenly and pop into the oven at 150C and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares or bars.
The addition of hemp seeds in this recipe boosts the protein and omega-3 fatty acid content.
For this recipe I have used rice malt syrup instead of honey. Rice malt syrup contains complex carbohydrate (maltose) and a small amount of glucose and is fructose free. It is a slower releasing sugar that does not have the same insulin spiking effect as honey. It is also vegan friendly and less sweet than honey.
Cooking these slowly at a lower temperature helps to prevent nutrient losses.
Warning: these crunchy snacks are so delicious, it is hard to stop at just one....