Foodie Fridays: Spicy Candied Pumpkin Seeds
Posted by Guest in Foodie Fridays
The mellow, warm color of pumpkins signals to me that fall is in full swing. This time of year, pumpkins are everywhere, from pumpkin patches, pumpkins on front steps, pumpkins in loaves, muffins and pies, and pumpkins carved and flickering in the night. However, for years - and much to the dismay of my husband - I've adamantly claimed that I didn't like roasted pumpkin seeds. My friends, I was wrong.

Until very recently, I'd never roasted my own seeds. I'd tried them when offered to me, but was always perplexed that anyone would enjoy the strange texture of the hulls that apparently you were supposed to eat. Now I know: they weren't full toasted! Properly toasted pumpkin seeds are crunchy all the way through and are a pleasure to eat (think sunflower seeds you can flavor as you wish without the mess of having to spit out the shells!).

Now, everyone knows that what you find on the inside of a pumpkin is, shall we say, less than appetizing. Don't let that deter you! It's pretty simple to separate the seeds from the rest of the insides - just scoop everything out and into your clean sink or a large bowl of water. Be prepared to get messy for this step; using a spoon or one of those scrapers that come with pumpkin carving kits helps. Swish the gooey contents all around in the water; the seeds will float and everything else will sink to the bottom. Easy!

Not only can you make roasted pumpkin seeds a hundred different ways to satisfy any craving of the moment, they also pack a decent nutritional punch (iron, magnesium and protein). They also contain phytosterols, which have been shown to reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. To be fair, heat does tend to destroy some of the nutritive value of the seeds - so a light roast is certainly better than dark - but they're still better for you than that bag of chips that's been calling your name. After visiting your local pumpkin patch, try this sweet and spicy version of roasted pumpkin seeds.

Spicy Candied Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup of raw pumpkin seeds, separated from the stringy insides and rinsed
4 cups water
1 tablespoons salt
1/4 cup natural cane sugar or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine pumpkin seeds and 1 tablespoon of the salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine sugar, pepper, cinnamon and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. When seeds are done, remove from heat, drain and spread onto a paper towel. Pat dry. Pour onto oiled cookie sheet and coat all seeds with oil. Sprinkle with sugar mixture and mix to coat evenly. Arrange seeds into a single layer and bake for 12-18 minutes until golden (be sure to watch closely toward the end - they'll burn quickly). Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.

Yield: 1 cup

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