As a person with both sweet tooth and a salty tooth, there is a wide variety of snacks that appeal to me. Of course, many of them are empty calorie ones that taste great but don’t give my body very good nutrients. That’s why tamari-roasted pepitas have become one of my favorites. Last year as I increased my calorie burn through active bicycle riding, pepitas have been a tasty and welcome snack for energy replenishment.
Pepitas are shelled pumpkin seeds. Some consider them a seasonal snack following the pumpkin carving of late fall. However, pepitas have a strong ethnic year ’round appeal also. The word itself is from Mexican Spanish. Lightly roasted, salted and unhulled pumpkin seeds are popular in Greece, too. The leading commercial producers of pumpkins include the U.S., Mexico, India and China.
They were a celebrated food of the Native American Indians who treasured them both for their dietary and medicinal properties. The cultivation of pumpkins spread throughout the world when the European explorers brought back many of the agricultural treasures of the New World.
In my experience pumpkin seeds come roasted and/or salted and remain in their hulls. The pepitas I have found are always already shelled.
The World’s Healthiest Foods site says that pepitas interrupt the triggering of prostate cell multiplication and benefit prostate health. Good news for us senior guys. Additionally, the carotinoids found in pumpkin seeds as well as the omega-3 fats are also being studied for their potential prostate benefits. Men with higher amounts of carotinoids in their diet have less risk for BPH (Benign prostatic hypertrophy); this is the connection that has led to an interest in pumpkin seed carotinoids.
Nutrients in pepitas have been investigated with respect to arthritis. Some of the compounds in pumpkin seeds have been found to lower cholesterol, too.
Holistic Online website says “The pumpkin seeds are a balanced source of good proteins. They are very nourishing and energizing. In addition to protein, they are an excellent source of iron, B vitamins, vitamin E, fiber, oil and minerals.
“Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, a mineral that aids the healing process and is useful in treating an enlarged prostate gland. Other nutrients are magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, potassium, niacin, folic acid, riboflavin and thiamin. They also contain pantothenic acid, unsaturated oils and antioxidants.
“Seeds roasted in oil generally contain saturated acids, making them even more energizing than plain-roasted seeds. Pumpkin seeds are said to be diuretic and to help in the treatment of urinary tract infections and prostate disorders. They also have a reputation for being an aphrodisiac.
A quarter cup of pepitas (2 ounces) contains 252 calories, 24 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, No cholesterol, 320 mg of sodium, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein.
Check ’em out. You might be pleasantly surprised.