The Fall season brings to us a favorite squash!! Pumpkin! Did you know it’s a squash? Pumpkin and the spices that seem to flavor it best are added to just about everything: pumpkin coffee, pumpkin muffins, and of course, pumpkin pie! As delicious as pumpkin treats are, did you know that the seeds of a pumpkin can also be roasted and enjoyed?
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of many nutrients, including fiber, protein, magnesium, and potassium1. Pumpkin seeds can be seasoned in many ways and are delightfully crunchy when roasted, which makes them a great addition to salads, trail mixes and for a simple snack-in-a-handful!
Check out this simple way to make your own roasted pumpkin seeds:
Get a pumpkin!
Fill a large bowl with warm water
Preheat oven to 275 degrees
Wash your hands!
Carefully, use a sharp knife to cut around the top of the pumpkin around the stem, and then pull on the stem to take off.
Using a large spoon or your hands, pull all of the seeds out of the pumpkin and place the clumps of seeds directly into the bowl of water. This will get messy, but it’s fun! The stringy orange pulp in the pumpkin can be discarded when pulled out with the seeds.
Use your hands to separate any remaining pumpkin pulp from the seeds in the bowl of water. The pulp will sink, and the seeds will float once in the water.
Strain seeds out of the water with a colander, and pat the seeds dry with a paper towel.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place cleaned and dried pumpkin seeds in a bowl. Now it is time to season them! This is the fun part!
For a sweet, pumpkin pie flavor, use equal parts cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
For a savory flavor option, use equal parts salt, pepper, garlic, and cumin.
Use your own spice mixture as well!
Once seasonings sprinkled on, use your hands to mix seeds well.
Lay seasoned pumpkin seeds out in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Bake the seasoned pumpkin seeds for 30-35 minutes at 275 degrees. Every 15 minutes, carefully open the oven and using a spoon or pancake flipper, stir the seeds around so they are able to roast evenly.
Once the seeds are lightly browned, remove from the oven and allow to cool on pan.
Store the roasted pumpkin seeds in a sealed container at room temperature.
There are many ways you can enjoy your toasted pumpkin seeds! A few ideas:
It lives in dark places. It is creepy. It causes some people to scream and run away. It has bulging eyes and eight legs. It’s a spider!
Spiders have long been associated with all the scary images of Halloween, including white filmy webs that can trap insects and even people who wander through them. How spiders came to be associated with Halloween is based in medieval folklore when festivals noted the change of seasons from summer to autumn and winter. The colors of orange and black also represent this change with orange reflecting the color change in the leaves and black forecasting the increased darkness with winter’s arrival and foliage death of the harvested plants.
Folklore also suggested that the power of witches was at its height during this time of year. Black bats and rats, as well as spiders, were considered companions of witches since they were all generally found in caves, dungeons and other dark, scary places. Spiders were especially associated with witches because of their magical powers to spin webs that could trap victims. It didn’t help the arachnid’s reputation when movies includingTarantula(1955),Kingdom of the Spiders(1977) starring William Shatner, and Walt Disney Studios Arachnophobia (1990) cemented spiders in the world of the creepy and dangerous. Despite EB White’s attempt to demystify spiders in his award-winning children’s book Charlotte’s Web, spiders continue to instill fear in some people.
But spiders don’t deserve a bad reputation since they are as varied in their habits and characteristics as other living groups. Spiders are not insects but belong to a class known as arachnids that also includes scorpions, mites, ticks and others. Features common to most spiders include two body parts connected at a thin waist, eight legs, fangs, two to eight eyes, and no wings or antennae. All spiders are predators but they don’t eat otherliving animals, and some eat plants. In the US, only three groups of spiders are poisonous and only two are found in Connecticut. The northern black widow, a native, and the brown recluse, a non-native that arrives in produce and containers from other regions, both avoid interaction with people and will bite only if threatened. If bitten, victims should seek immediate medical help.
As temperatures drop and seasons change many spiders, but not all, will seek out new places to call home. Often this is inside houses where warm temperatures provide sources of water, shelter and food, such as other insects and pests. Spiders are found everywhere except in the ocean and on Antarctica.
Halloween is filled with sweet temptations and scary over-eating. Here are a few tips to help both adults and children avoid over indulging.
Be a role model!
Make sure your little goblins eat a healthy meal before trick or treating. Create a Healthy Family Halloween Tradition like Butternut Squash soup. Pair it with Grilled Cheese with thinly sliced apples or Raisin Bread cut into ghosts or jack-o-lanterns. YUM! Your family will associate Halloween with a fall family meal instead of just candy collection. They will look forward this delicious treat!
Try giving out stickers, pencils, erasers or some other non-food item. Candy can run as much as 50 dollars for some households. Nonfood items are a fun alternative and can cost a lot less! The non-food leftovers can be saved for next year or donated to a local school. Try pre-packed pretzels or a nutritious alternative.
Go to every other house so you do not have as much candy.
It’s scary out there!
Tell children to wait until they get home to eat candy. When trick or treaters return home make sure to inspect the candy. Throw away any open, torn or tampered candy. Do not eat homemade items or baked goods. If there is discoloration, throw it out. Also be mindful of choking hazards for younger children, such as gum, nuts, hard candy and small toys. When it doubt throw it out. If you must indulge remember to brush your teeth after eating candy.
Bag of plenty:
Set limits for eating candy, such as 3 pieces a day.
Sponsor an after Halloween Candy Drive. Have students bring half their candy to donate to the Troops. Have a Active Prize such as a School Costume Dance Party as an incentive.
OPT OUT: Have a Halloween party instead with nutritious foods and a scary movie!
Written by Heather Smith Pease, UConn Extension EFNEP Nutrition Outreach Educator in the Hartford County office firstname.lastname@example.org