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Seasonal snack

(article, Melanie Mesaros)

After you scoop and carve that Halloween pumpkin, don’t toss the seeds. The jack-o-lantern leftovers can make for a healthy snack or recipe addition. 

Pumpkin seeds are high in protein and fiber and have been shown to help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In China, the seeds are known as a remedy for depression, and in some parts of Europe, they've been used to treat learning disorders. 

Follow these steps to transform your pumpkin seeds:

# Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
# Clean seeds in cold water not long after you've removed them from the pumpkin (it's easiest then). 
# Roast seeds on an oiled baking sheet for about 20 minutes, checking periodically.
# Let your seeds cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.

On Culinate, we put pumpkin seeds in pasta. Martha Stewart suggests a sweet-and-spicy version that mixes cinnamon with cayenne pepper. And Epicurious offers a recipe for a candy-like pumpkin-seed brittle. 

[%image feed-image float=left credit="Photo: iStockphoto/Pollypic" caption="Pumpkin seeds"]

Pumpkin seeds are a staple in Latin American cooking, where they appear in everything from salsas and dips to pepian, a Guatemalan chicken dish. In most of these traditional dishes, the seeds are referred to as pepitas, which means that their white hulls have been removed. You can find pepitas already salted or roasted at most supermarkets or Mexican grocery stores.    

Pumpkin seeds have long been popular for spicing up salads and adding crunch to trail mix. Chowhound even has a message board where seedheads can share their favorite ways to use pumpkin seeds (for example, try coating a soft cheese ball with them).

If you're looking to buy a pumpkin for its seeds, some say that smaller is better: littler pumpkins tend to have tastier seeds, with more intense flavor.

feed-image, l