When I have an inevitable energy slump in the afternoon, usually around 3 o’clock, I always need to go foraging for food. For instance a slice of hot toast smothered with crunchy peanut butter with a few berries or a mashed banana on top. Oatcakes with roasted nuts are another option, or perhaps a chunky granola bar, encased in sugar syrup and smothered with seeds.
I think you can see where I’m going with this… Pumpkin seeds also fall into this category.
As far as all-round health benefits are concerned they’re pretty hard to beat. Their nutrition is, shall we say, “brain boosting” – with zinc, magnesium and Omega-3 in abundance, all of which are beneficial when it comes to improving memory and critical thinking skills.
This is definitely a good choice for the afternoon cognitive deficit.
As well as for snacking pumpkin seeds are great for general cooking purposes; such as garnishing sweet and savoury bakes; blitzing into a pesto sauce for pasta or pureeing into a smooth and creamy seed butter or for toast.
For the recipes below I’ve opted for a selection of 3 of the best (and indeed simple) uses for pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seed bread
Seeded bread recipes often call for different seed varieties like linseed, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin. This loaf uses only the latter of the four – which I find the most flavoursome.
- 20g fresh / 14g instant yeast
- 500g strong wholemeal bread flour
- 5g salt
- 10g unrefined sugar i.e. brown cane sugar or demerara
- 50ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
- 275ml/9fl oz warm water
- 150g pumpkin seeds
- Heat a small pan to a medium-high heat and spread the pumpkin seeds out evenly. Toast for around 7-10 minutes, shaking the pan so they do not catch or burn. Remove from the heat and leave to cool
- In a bowl mix together the yeast, flour, salt, sugar and oil until well combined. Add the warm water and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together as a soft dough.
- Add the pumpkin seeds and knead gently for 5-8 minutes, or until the seeds are combined and the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with a clean tea towel.
- Set aside in a warm place to prove for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 200C
- When the dough has proved, transfer to the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until the bread has risen and is golden-brown.
Porridge with pumpkin seeds and maple syrup blackberries
There are countless recipe variations around for porridge – what can you expect for something that’s been around since 1000 BC..
This is my take on it.
- 50-75g steel cut oats
- 250ml water or milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- a generous drizzle of maple syrup
- Put the oats in a saucepan with the water (or milk) and salt.
- Slowly bring to the boil over a low-medium heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring from time to time and watching carefully that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Before serving, pour some boiling water into your serving bowl, leave for 10 seconds, then pour out. This warms the bowl in preparation for the porridge.
- To serve: Pour into the warmed bowl, spoon the pumpkin seeds on top and drizzle with honey.
Spice-roasted pumpkin seeds with cumin, coriander and cardamom
- 100g pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 tsp each ground cumin, coriander, cardamom and salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add seeds, lower heat and boil gently for 10 minutes. Drain well then transfer to a paper towel-lined tray and pat dry.
- Meanwhile, mix the oil together in a bowl with the ground spices.
- Transfer the seeds to a medium bowl, toss with the flavoured oil and spread out in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
- Roast the seeds, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until just crisp and golden brown, about 1 hour total. (They will become crispier as they cool.)
- Set aside to let cool completely then shell or eat whole.
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