Seeds and nuts are naturally nutritionally dense. Packed with protein and vitamins, seeds make for a healthy go-to snack. Take a trip to your local grocery store or food co-op, and you may come across a product called, “pepitas.”
Pepita is a Mexican Spanish word meaning “little seed of squash.” Don’t let this unfamiliar word throw you off though; pepita is just another term for pumpkin seeds. Pepitas have a green hue and are similar in taste, texture, and shape to traditional white pumpkin seeds, however, they are usually a touch smaller.
What’s The Difference Between Pepitas And Pumpkin Seeds?
How are pepitas different from pumpkin seeds? Simply put, Pepitas are pumpkins seeds. However, they are not encased in a white shell as pumpkin seeds are. Pepitas come from pumpkin varieties that naturally grow hull-less seeds, conveniently not requiring shelling upon eating, making it a much easier and enjoyable snacking experience.
The labor-intensive job of dehulling pumpkin seeds can be avoided by growing pumpkins that produce seeds without hulls. Pumpkin varieties that produce pepitas include:
- Gleisdorfer Naked Seeded
- Lady Godiva
- Austria Oil Seed
- Naked Bear
Are Pepitas Healthy?
As with any seeds or nut, Pepitas are naturally wholesome, and nutritionally jammed packed with a variety of nutrients that are conveniently accessible as its already unwrapped for you. They have been considered one of the healthiest foods in the world. A one-ounce serving of pepitas serves the body well with an astounding source of manganese, phosphorous, copper, and magnesium, zinc and iron.
One ounce of pepitas will give you 74% of your daily requirements for manganese. This vital nutrient helps to keep the body’s nervous system operating correctly. Other benefits of manganese can be found in the immune and skeletal systems. Lastly, it will help keep your heartbeat at a steady pace.
Phosphorus strengthens bones and teeth, and boosts the kidney’s ability to filter out waste. In addition to these benefits, it’s one of the most abundant minerals found in your body, so replacing it can be crucial to your overall health. Pepitas provide 57% of what your body looks for on a daily basis.
You can get 48% of your daily copper requirements as well. Copper helps the human body keep the immune system up to par, by aiding the system in fighting against spreading infections and initiating healing. Copper also aids in repairing damaged tissues throughout the body.
A one-ounce serving provides a 48% daily value of magnesium. Magnesium helps with the body’s muscles, and nerve function, as well as the heart, and it supports the immune system.
A one-ounce serving provides a 23% daily value of Zinc. Zinc plays a vital role in regulating the bodies immune system.
A one-ounce serving provides a 16% daily value of iron. This important mineral produces hemoglobin, which is a protein located within red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body. This transfer of oxygen includes the lungs and heart. Iron also helps your body produce myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles.
Pepitas Nutritional and Health Benefits
Pepitas are also known to have many other impressive health benefits including:
1. Helps regulate blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes
2. Improvements to the urinary tract and prostate
3. Increases male health and fertility due to its zinc content
4. Decreases Cancer risk
5. Decreases Heart Disease
6. Magnesium levels found in pepitas can help improve sleep
Pepitas are 170 calories for a one-ounce serving, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of protein, and 4 grams of carbohydrates. For such a small helping, of one ounce, it’s no wonder this is called one of the world’s healthiest foods. I’m reaching for a handful, or two now!
Delicious Pepitas Recipes
The flavor of a pepita is light and nutty. It’s very similar to that of a sunflower seed. Due to the lightness of its flavor, the pepita can be extremely versatile in the form of both sweet and savory dishes.
Traditionally, these seeds are best enjoyed roasted, however, because of their nutritionally dense nature and subtle flavor, they provide countless uses in several recipes. Pepitas can be worked into homemade bread, cake, granolas, smoothies, candies, rice pilafs, oatmeal, as well as used as a garnish for salad or anything else that needs a healthy boost.
Roasted Pepita Seeds
Roasted pumpkin seeds are a classic and simple fall treat! These eight roasted pepita recipes provide a variety of unique flavors, guaranteed to appease every palette.
Fruit And Nut Granola With Pepitas
For those that enjoy a hearty breakfast brimming with flavor, this should certainly hit the spot. This Tart Cherry and Cacao Nib Granola is chock-full of powerful nutrients to jumpstart your day! Overflowing with healthy ingredients such as coconut oil, old-fashioned rolled oats, pepitas, sunflower seeds, honey, cherries, cacao nibs, and ginger. Not only for breakfast this can be enjoyed as a quick pick me up at any time of the day when you need a healthy boost.
Pumpkin Seed Cranberry Salad
In the mood for a tasty Autumn inspired salad? This Pumpkin Seed, Cranberry & Feta Salad is for you. This easily prepared, crisp salad paired with tart cranberries, savory feta cheese, and crunchy pepitas are sure to hold a new spot on your lunch hall of fame.
A unique fall twist on a classic favorable spread. Toss this Raw Pumpkin Seed Pesto on your favorite, pasta, veggie noodles, or crackers. Effortlessly, place all your ingredients in a food processor until smooth and enjoy.
Pepita Brittle Bars
If you love Peanut Brittle, you’ll love Pepita Brittle more. It’s just as sweet and delicious, but with a powerful ingredient, the pepita! Pepita Brittle requires limited components but some patience as you’ll be working with a candy thermometer. This recipe is a lovely addition to your fall recipe lineup.
How to Roast Raw Pepitas
Think you’re ready to take the Pepita plunge? Pepitas are extremely easy to prepare as a healthy, nutrient-rich snack. You can make a big batch to keep your energy up at work throughout the work week or make them as a tasty side on game-day.
What You’ll Need
- 2 cups of raw pepitas
- olive oil
- sea salt
- Preheat your oven to 350F
- Line a baking sheet with tin foil
- Pour your pepitas into a medium-sized bowl. Drizzle with oil and mix with your hands until the pepitas are evenly coated.
- Spread the pepitas onto your prepared baking sheet and season with salt.
- Bake for 6 minutes and remove from oven.
- Mix the pepitas around to prevent scorching and bake for another 6 minutes.
- Remove from oven and enjoy.
Feel free to experiment with other spices and seasonings. They are very versatile, so adding your favorite spices or herbs can be a great way to personalize this simple snack. Dill, garlic powder, rosemary, or paprika all make great options to try out on your home roasted pepitas. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also sprinkle in a dusting of dry ranch dip mix for an extra zing. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the classic salt and pepper roasted pepitas on a fall afternoon.
The undressed pumpkin seed, Pepitas are an incredibly versatile snack. Even though they may be small in size, they pack a powerful punch with impressive health benefits. They have a high concentration of minerals and can improve cardiovascular health. Pepitas are so purposeful and easy to use, they should be integrated into your diet with haste. There are so many creative ways to introduce pepitas to your weekly menu. Whether they’re roasted, mixed into your favorite granola, or garnished on your favorite salad, pepitas will be an excellent addition to any dish. The next time you see some of the super-seeds in your local grocery store, don’t hesitate to pick up a bag. You won’t regret it!