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A Salty, Satisfying Snack for Kids

House Pumpkin Seeds

By Katie Workman, author of The Mom 100 Cookbook, creator of themom100.com blog

Makes 2 cups

A Fork in the Road Recipe

VegetarianPumpkin Seeds

Crunchy, salty, and very satisfying—but now you get to make sure the oil and the salt remain within reason. And you get to make your kids aware that not all snacks come in brightly colored bags; sometimes they come in a pumpkin. (You can also find raw pumpkin seeds at health food stores and they are available online).

Think about these as Halloween approaches as a nice change of pace from the candy infusion that seems to take over our kids’ lives.  If there is a pumpkin carving event at your kids’ school, don’t let them throw those seeds away!  Take them home, roast them (or maybe you can even roast them with the kids in the school kitchen), and show them how pumpkins are good for more than just jack o’lanterns.

Some recipes call for hulling pumpkin seeds (which means cracking off the outer shell and just using the smaller kernel inside) but few of us have the time or the patience for such things. You can order them hulled, but if you are using them from a fresh pumpkin, go ahead and use the whole seed. The shells are perfectly edible, if not exactly tender, and it’s really all about the roasting and the salt anyway. And it can also be about the seasonings, if you choose.

 What you need:

2 cups rinsed and dried raw pumpkin seeds (see Note)

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

Kosher or coarse salt to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Dump the pumpkin seeds onto a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle the oil over them. Sprinkle the seeds

with salt to taste. Use your hand or a wooden spoon to really mix everything up so the seeds are well coated with the oil and salt. Spread the seeds out in a single layer. You can continue with Step 3 or go directly to Step 4.

3. See the Fork in the Road suggestions for seasoning the pumpkin seeds on this page.

4. Bake the pumpkin seeds until they are golden brown and fragrant, 20 to 25 minutes. Give the baking sheet a shake once or twice as the seeds bake to move them around. Let the seeds cool right on the baking sheet.

Note: For 2 cups of pumpkin seeds, you’ll need a very large pumpkin. To get to the seeds, cut a “lid” around the top of the pumpkin with a sharp knife. Remove the top and scoop out all of the guts and seeds from the pumpkin. Put the seeds in a colander and rinse away as much of the extra glop as possible. Spread the seeds on a dish towel or paper towels to dry thoroughly, about 20 minutes (you can speed this up by blotting them with another dish towel or a few paper towels).

Variation:

You can also use 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 teaspoon sugar (white or brown), and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon for a sweeter version.

Make Ahead: The roasted pumpkin seeds can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

**What the Kids Can Do:

Your little chefs can investigate the spice drawer and come up with their own brand of “house” pumpkin seeds. If your kids unscrew the lids of the cumin and chili powder jars, and do the sprinkling themselves, it’s a good bet that they will both give those pumpkin seeds a try. Kids can also help clean the pumpkin seeds and then toss them with the oil, salt, and seasonings.