Roasted and Toasted Pepitas
Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, make an affordable, delicious, and healthy snack. The terms pepitas and pumpkin seeds are interchangeable, but some people are specifically referring to the hulled, green pumpkin seeds that grow in Oilseed pumpkins when they say pepita.
Pepitas are enormously healthyi. Pumpkin seeds contain an array of antioxidants, including a wide variety of vitamin E forms, zinc, manganese, hydroxybenzoic, caffeic, syringic acid, vanillic, protocatechuic, sinapic, ferulic, and coumaric. The diversity of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds is not commonly identified in food, making this treat particularly special.
The World Health Organization has highlighted the pumpkin seed as an excellent way of consuming the nutrient zinc. In addition to zinc, pumpkin seeds are also a good source of phosphorous, copper, manganese, and magnesium. It is important to note that the unshelled version of pumpkin seeds have slightly less zinc than the shelled pumpkin seeds. Seeds without shells have about 7-8 milligrams of zinc per 3.5 oz., whereas pumpkin seeds with shells have about 10 milligrams of zinc per 3.5 oz.
Pumpkin seeds are also known for their antimicrobial benefits and anticarcinogenic properties. Pumpkin seeds and oils contain anti-fungal and anti-viral agents, one of the reasons why the pumpkin has been valued by so many cultures.
A serving size of .25 cup pepitas contains about 180 calories. Keep in mind, that does not include any additional oils or ingredients added to the seeds.
How to Prepare Pepitas
There are two primary ways of preparing pepitas: roastingii and toastingiii. To enhance the flavor of the seeds, you can use olive oil, truffle oil, salt, garlic, cayenne, dill, lemon, or any ingredient that tickles your fancy.
If you have a cup of pepitas, you want to toss the seeds onto a baking sheet with oil until they are covered and evenly spread across the sheet.
Heat your oven to 325 °F. Once the oven is heated, place the pepitas in the center of the oven. Let the seeds roast for approximately 15 minutes, but make sure that you occasionally stir them so that the seeds will roast evenly. Once the seeds are done roasting, take them out of the oven and immediately season the pepitas to your liking.
Some argue that toasting is the best way to prepare pepitas because it brings out the nutty flavor and crunch that roasting simply does not.
If you have half to one cup of pepitas, place them in a frying pan over medium high heat, but do not use any oil. To avoid uneven cooking, do not overcrowd the pan. It is better to break the pepitas up into two servings than to attempt to cook them all at once.
As the pepitas cook, some of them may expand and even pop. This is okay. You will continue to shake and turn the pepitas in the pan until it appears as if most of them are golden-brown. This will take about five minutes.
Once the pepitas are cooked, immediately pour them out of the pan into a cool container. If they are not removed from the hot surface, they will continue to cook and may burn.