All hail the 'snack o'lantern'
Carving a pumpkin for the holiday? Salvage the seeds for a savory, frugal treat.
A couple of days ago, I visited a friend who'd bought a giant squash at the farmers' market. We wondered if its seeds could be roasted like pumpkin seeds.
A little olive oil, some Johnny's Seasoning Salt and about 15 minutes in the oven and we had our answer.
The seeds were crisp and airy and savory, completely addictive and completely frugal: The salvaged snack was made from something that would otherwise have been thrown away.
Back to pumpkins: The markets are full of them right now, which means a whole lot of seeds are going to go to waste.
I'll be doing my part to salvage some of that protein, since I've been invited to a jack o'lantern carving party this weekend. My plan is to take home all the pumpkin guts I can scavenge. If you're carving a pumpkin this year, why save the innards and create a treat's both frugal and good for you?
According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, one-quarter of a cup of pumpkin seeds has 19.5% of the recommended daily allowance of protein. It also contains iron (15.7%), zinc (16.8%), copper (21.5%), phosphorus (39.7%), magnesium (47.7%) and manganese (73.5%).
Just FYI: It's unlikely that you'll stop at a quarter of a cup. (See "completely addictive," above.)
Plain or fancy
Do Bing search for "pumpkin seed recipes" and you'll find basic roasting tips, plus numerous flavor variations, many of which can be made with ingredients you already have on hand, such as:
- Cajun spice (paprika, Worcestershire, Cajun seasoning mix)
- Sweet seeds (butter, cinnamon and sugar)
- Caramelized spicy (sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cumin and a pinch of cayenne)
- Toasted pumpkin seed popcorn (pepper, garlic, cayenne and paprika -- and popcorn, of course)
- Halloween party mix (roasted seeds plus pretzel sticks and goldfish crackers)
Not every recipe is healthful, or even G-rated. In a creation found on Allrecipes.com, drunken pumpkin seeds start off being simmered in a sauce made of whiskey, brown sugar and bacon drippings.
A recipe on Etsy for spiced pumpkin seed brittle sounds delicious -- it's made with cinnamon, ginger and chipotle chile powder -- but like any brittle, it's not particularly good for your teeth.
Then again, neither is just about anything else we eat on Halloween. Maybe all that manganese will help offset the sugar. Or the whiskey and bacon fat.
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Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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