PEPITAS—THE NAKED PUMPKIN SEED
With a hefty 9 grams of protein per one ounce serving, pepitas are good-for-you food. But before I tell you the many reasons you should be eating this yummy superfood, let me tell you what these crunchy, munchy goodies are: Hulless pumpkin seeds. Yep! Pumpkin seeds without the thick, white hull.
These green seeds are nutrient powerhouses, boasting amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, potassium, niacin, and phosphorous. They are high in most of the B vitamins, and vitamins C, D, E, and K. They are rich in beta-carotene that can be converted into vitamin A as needed by the body, and also rich in the eye protective carotenoid lutein.
The monounsaturated oil and omega 3 fatty acids in pepitas has been shown to help prevent cancer and prostate conditions. Large amounts of carotenoids and zinc content also help discourage cancer.
In my house, we dry-toast pepitas until they pop (they get very puffy and make a popping sound), then toss them into salads and stir-fries or use them as a garnish beans, grains, soups and hot cereals with them. We also add them to baked goods, homemade granola, and make a salsa with a ¼ cup of pepitas plus a chopped tomato, chile, onion and cilantro.
Pepitas can also be whirred into a dairy-free crème sauce that is perfect used as a savory sauce or filling for a number of foods. Try it as a topping for grains, potatoes, veggies, tacos, or a sauce for pasta, poultry, fish or meat. You will love this addictive sauce!
CREAMY PEPITA SAUCE
Makes about 3 cups
2 1/2 cups raw (untoasted) pepitas
2 3/4 cups (or more) homemade, boxed or canned low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Stir seeds in large skillet over medium-high heat until they start to become golden and begin to pop, about 6 minutes.
2. Transfer pepitas to blender. Add 2 3/4 cups broth. Blend until smooth, scraping down sides of blender occasionally.
3. Thin sauce to consistency of buttermilk (or a bit thicker), adding broth by 1/4 cup measures.
4. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
To pack pumpkin seeds in my kids’ lunchbags, I use these cool “food cones.” Check them out!