Carving pumpkins is one of our favorite traditions, but every year, we’re never quite sure what to do with all those leftover pumpkin seeds. Sure, you could roast them into a crunchy snack, but we recently discovered an even better option: turning them into pumpkin seed butter! That’s right: With just three ingredients, you can turn those slimy, discarded seeds into a rich, creamy, sweet-and-savory seed butter. Even better? It’s good for you, too! We asked nutritionists about the health benefits of pumpkin seed butter plus got their shortcuts that make it so easy to whip up at home.
What is pumpkin seed butter?
Pumpkin seed butter is a natural, creamy spread made from blended pumpkin seeds. It’s like peanut or almond butter but completely nut-free. (So it’s great for those with allergies!) It’s versatile, delicious and full of health benefits — what better way to use up all those pumpkin seeds you were going to throw away? Keep reading to learn more about what pumpkin seed butter tastes like and how to use it.
What pumpkin seed butter tastes like
“Pumpkin seed butter has a rich, nutty flavor,” says Chrissy Arsenault, RDN, MBA, with Trainer Academy. “It’s earthy and slightly sweet, making it a versatile ingredient for both sweet and savory dishes.”
How to use pumpkin seed butter
You can use pumpkin seed butter in any way you’d use other seed or nut butters, says Zenker. She suggests stirring it into oatmeal, using it in smoothies or baked goods, or serving it as a dip with fruit, crackers and veggies. “You can even blend it with water to make pumpkin seed milk,” she says.
3 health benefits of pumpkin seed butter
Beyond being delicious and versatile, pumpkin seed butter boasts a few impressive health benefits. It’s also a great option for those allergic to nut butters since it’s nut-free. Check out the ways pumpkin seed butter could be good for your body and mind.
Pumpkin seed butter helps fire up metabolism
Adult women need at least 50 grams of protein a day, and may need more depending on weight and exercise habits — and the older you are, the more crucial it is to get enough protein to maintain the muscle mass that keeps your metabolism humming along. This link between muscle mass and metabolism is so strong that it big part of the reason why folks who eat more protein over the age of 50 stay slimmer. “Pumpkin seed butter is a good source of plant protein,” says Zenker. In fact, a 1-ounce, or roughly 2-tablespoon, serving of pumpkin seeds contains about 9 grams of protein. (Click through to see how protein in the morning boosts weight loss and how cottage cheese protein can help with weight loss.)
Pumpkin seeds are also full of fiber, which promote healthy digestion and help keep you feeling fuller longer. A dollop or two of pumpkin seed butter with your snacks can help you meet those requirements and feel your best. (Click through to discover how viscous fiber can speed weight loss.)
It’s good for your heart
Pumpkin seeds are full of healthy, unsaturated fats, notes Arsenault. These are the fats essential for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, stabilizing your heartbeat and keeping inflammation at bay. They’re also full of magnesium and nitric oxide, which can help regulate blood pressure and improve blood flow, which are both important for heart health. (Click through to read more about the benefits of magnesium.)
It boosts immunity
Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants, which protect the cells in our body from damage and inflammation that can lead to illness and disease. People with diets rich in antioxidants may have lower risk of chronic illnesses like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Click through to learn more about the health benefits of pumpkin seeds.
How to make pumpkin seed butter
Once you’ve gotten your seeds from your pumpkin and removed the pulp, all you have to do is quickly shell them, and they’ll be ready to blend. Keep reading for instructions to shell your seeds and make butter.
Trick to quickly shell pumpkin seeds
The white encasing or shell on pumpkin seeds is completely edible and, in fact, healthy for you. However, it’s tough and won’t blend smoothly. For pumpkin seed butter, you want to expose the smaller green seed inside — called pepitas — which are softer and will blend into the creamy consistency you want from pumpkin seed butter. Here’s a step-by-step on shelling pumpkin seeds:
- Lay cleaned (pulp-free) pumpkin seeds on a flat surface.
- Use a rolling pin to gently apply enough pressure to crack the shells.
- Boil the seeds for 10 minutes.
- Once boiled and cooled, the seeds should separate from the shells.
Recipe for pumpkin seed butter
This recipe from Arsenault only uses three ingredients. It’s easy to customize with your own favorite spices and sweeteners if you’d like!
- 2 cups raw, shelled pumpkin seeds
- 1-2 Tbs. oil (like coconut or olive oil, for consistency)
- Salt to taste
- Optional: sweetener of choice (Arsenault recommends honey or Stevia)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and toast for 10-12 minutes until golden-brown and fragrant. Cool.
- Place roasted seeds in food processor or high-speed blender. Blend on high, scraping down sides as needed. It will start as powder and gradually become creamier over several minutes.
- If mixture is too dry, add oil while blending until you achieve desired consistency.
- Add a pinch of salt and sweetener, if desired.
Transfer to clean, airtight jar and store in the refrigerator. “Pumpkin seed butter is perishable but can be stored for several weeks,” says Arsenault. “Just stir as needed before consuming.” Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, Zenker recommends adding other flavors to spice it up, like cocoa powder, vanilla extract or maple syrup. Yum!
2 delicious ideas for pumpkin seed butter
You can eat pumpkin seed butter as is or simply spread on toast. But you can also use it to make other delicious snacks! Check out these tasty, simple recipes you can make using your homemade pumpkin seed butter.
1. Spiced Pumpkin Butter Energy Balls
This no-bake, protein-packed recipe from Zenker is perfect for prepping at the start of the week. The energy balls provide the pick-me-up you need in the late afternoons — or any time!
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ½ cup pumpkin seed butter
- ¼ cup pure pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup honey or maple syrup
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup ground flaxseed
- ¼ cup chopped nuts (like almonds or walnuts)
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves)
- A pinch of salt
- Put first 5 ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. The mixture should be sticky and malleable.
- Chill mixture in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes to firm.
- After chilling, use your hands to roll small portions of the mixture into bite-sized balls.
- Chill the energy balls for another 30 minutes to set.
- Once hardened, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. They can be stored for up to a week.
2. Pumpkin Seed Butter Salad Dressing
Go the savory route with this recipe from Arsenault for salad dressing. It adds a rich, earthy flavor to your favorite greens.
- 1 Tbs. pumpkin seed butter
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- Pinch of salt
- Whisk pumpkin seed butter with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt.
- Drizzle over salad and enjoy!
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