Pumpkin-flavored anything always seems to bring a sense of comfort: a pumpkin latte on a crisp fall day; pumpkin bread with coffee in the morning; pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. And we can’t forget about the plant itself on Halloween.

Going straight to the source of these autumn treats brings you to the pumpkin seed. Considered one of the healthiest foods in the world, pumpkin seeds not only taste delicious but just one small serving is packed with tons of health benefits.

According to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension of Yavapai County, historians suspect that the pumpkin originated in Central America, as seeds from similar plants dating back over 7,000 years ago have been found in Mexico. Native Americans called pumpkins “isquotm squash” and used their seeds for medicine and food (they flattened strips of pumpkin and dried them to make meats). Early settlers also ate it and their method of adding milk, honey, and spices into a hollowed pumpkin shell and then baking it is thought to be the origin of pumpkin pie.

The Great Pumpkin

Pumpkin seeds are one of those foods that can be consumed in many different ways. They can be toasted and eaten on their own, and they’re great to incorporate into recipes for their strong, sweet taste. But no matter how you eat them, you’ll be infusing your body with a tremendous amount of nutrients.

  • Just 1/4 cup of raw, sprouted pumpkin seeds contains 180 calories, 220 milligrams of potassium, 7 grams of protein, and no sugar.
  • The seeds are high in manganese, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus, offering as much as a 15 percent daily value of these minerals per serving.
  • They’re considered to be one of the best sources of zinc, a mineral that helps regulate cell production in the immune system. Consuming high amounts of zinc can help eliminate acne, improve cognitive function, aid in weight loss, and decrease the severity and duration of colds.
  • Pumpkin seeds also offer antioxidant support in the form of vitamin E, a fat-soluble that protects the body from toxins, eye disorders, and neurological diseases and helps lower cholesterol.

Add a Taste of Fall to your Recipes

When cooking or baking with pumpkin seeds, recipes usually call for them to be roasted–spreading them out on a baking sheet and putting them in the oven at 160-170 degrees for 15-20 minutes suffices. It’s important to note though that these seeds should not be roasted for longer than 20 minutes, as doing so for any longer can change their fat structure.

The following delicious recipes from our Green Monsters use pumpkin seeds for crunch, texture, and garnish. And although pumpkins are considered to be seasonal food, these dishes and desserts can be enjoyed any time of the year!

1. Pumpkin Nut Muffins

Pumpkin Nut Muffins

Source: Pumpkin Nut Muffins

There’s no better way to start your autumn day than with our Pumpkin Nut Muffin. Moist with subtle spice and sweetness, these pumpkin-packed muffins will have you thinking and seeing more clearly. Rich in beta carotene, you can rest assured your peepers will be seeing better on the shorter, gloomy days ahead. Packed with fiber, the pumpkin will help you feel full throughout the day which means less overeating later on—a must during this eating season. In our shop, we bake these muffins with pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Not only do the seeds and nuts add flavor, protein, and healthy fats, but also have antioxidant power from amazing amounts of Vitamin E. This recipe, along with all our baking secrets, can be found in our cookbook: Sticky Fingers’ Sweets: 100 Super-Secret Vegan Recipes. Happy baking!

2. Yeasted Pumpkin Pancakes

vegan pancakes

Source: Yeasted Pumpkin Pancakes

Usually, Pancakes made with Whole Grain Flour are dry and flat, but not this one. The yeast allows the batter to rise, creating air pockets that are pivotal in the process. If you pour a bubbly batter into a hot grill, the Pancakes will rise to become fluffier than any other you’ve ever tried. Don’t they look fluffy and pretty?

3. Miso Roasted Pumpkin and Grilled Tofu over Udon Noodles

Vegan Miso Roasted Pumpkin and Grilled Tofu Over Udon Noodles

Source: Miso Roasted Pumpkin and Grilled Tofu over Udon Noodles

Move over pumpkin pie…there’s some savory competition in town! This vegan recipe was inspired by my idea for miso-roasted pumpkin as a side dish but ended up as a light and lovely Japanese-inspired meal in a bowl.

4. Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin Scones

Source: Pumpkin Scones

A few months back two of our dearest friends came to visit bearing a big, ripe pumpkin as a gift. We immediately wanted to reward their generosity by cooking up something super scrumptious but the internet gods couldn’t provide us with a suitable vegan scone recipe. So we went ahead and made one up ourselves. I think we were all secretly surprised at how beautifully they turned out. We slathered our pumpkin scones with vegan margarine and natural strawberry jam, washed them down with fresh fruit juice, and toasted our bodies in the warm morning sunlight. Bliss.

5. Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust

Source: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Sometimes in spring or summer, we wish that it was fall, just so we could make this pumpkin cheesecake! The crust is so gingery and snappy and the filling is so good, you can eat it on its own. Of course, you can serve this at any holiday gathering with pride. It is especially handy because you create it in advance, giving you time to be social and explain to your friends and family why you don’t need cheese in cheesecake.

6. Roasted Acorn Squash stuffed with Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf

Roasted Acorn Squash with Quinoa Pilaf

Source: Roasted Acorn Squash stuffed with Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf

With Thanksgiving coming up, there will be spreads full of rich and indulgent foods at parties and family gatherings for weeks on end. One of the tricks I’ve found that works for me is to bring something healthy to these gatherings that everyone can enjoy. It ensures I will have a healthy option and keeps me mindful of what’s on my plate.

7. Raw Ice Cream Sandwiches

Raw Ice Cream Sandwiches

Source: Raw Ice Cream Sandwiches

They turned out exactly as I had hoped. Soft chocolate pieces hold together raw, dairy-free ice cream. I used three different kinds of ice cream for these guys. Banana soft serve, olive oil, and vanilla caramel. Each one is unique and delicious in its own special way… AW SO SWEET (literally).

8. Ayurvedic Oatmeal

ayurvedic oatmeal

Source: Ayurvedic Oatmeal

Have some variety in your oatmeal breakfast: go Ayurvedic for a change!

Final Notes

This super seed is surely one of the best-kept secrets around. Whether you sprinkle them onto a salad, bake them into muffins, or snack on them alone, the taste and health contained in pumpkin seeds definitely will not let you down.

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