Pumpkin seed butter? Trust me, it isn’t as weird as it might sound, and it’s a powerhouse of goodness. Ruth’s recent post about magnesium might have been an eye-opener for you…magnesium deficiency is associated with seven of the top nine causes of death, and having chronically low levels of magnesium has been linked to many illnesses. Given its importance to our health, we need to make sure we’re getting enough of it.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the usual foods that work hard to keep us healthy are also great sources of magnesium: pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, summer squash, black beans, and others, all listed in Ruth’s previous post.
Just a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains more than half the daily requirement of magnesium for women. So let’s look at how you can include pumpkin seeds into your diet on a more regular basis.
Pumpkin seeds have quite a delicate flavor and can be a tasty snack – a quick handful gives you a bit of a treat, gives you a boost, gives you a bunch of magnesium, and requires no effort. Nice!
If you’re not a fan of eating nuts and seeds, you might like the pumpkin seeds when made into a smooth creamy butter. The list of ingredients couldn’t be simpler, that’s for sure: pumpkin seeds! (Although you could add a tiny bit of salt and a few drops of olive oil if you wanted.)
You might be asking yourself what on earth you would do with pumpkin seed butter…As it turns out, it’s quite a versatile ingredient. You can spread it on toast, just as you would peanut butter or any other topping. You can scoop it onto sticks of celery or onto slices of apple (one of my favorite ways to eat it). Or you can add a spoonful into your oatmeal or smoothie to add that important healthy fat content (especially important if the smoothie contains more fruit than vegetables). Perhaps even more deliciously, you can also use the butter in other recipes, such as this gorgeous Pumpkin Seed Butter Ice Box Cake from the unconventionalbaker.com website.
How to select and buy
You can find pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) in many grocery stores. They are usually available as either shelled or unshelled, raw or roasted, organic or conventionally grown, pre-packaged or in bulk. In this recipe for pumpkin seed butter, I used organic, raw, shelled, pre-packaged seeds. If you buy in bulk, just be sure that the product is fresh and hasn’t been sitting in the bin for too long. (Nuts and seeds have a fairly short shelf life before they turn rancid, so I store them in the fridge.) If you want to use roasted seeds, it’s better to buy them raw and roast them at home. By roasting them at home, you can control the process; too much time in the oven has been shown to alter the helpful fats. 
How to roast pumpkin seeds
- Pre-heat the oven to 160F/75C (This is quite a low setting; if your oven won’t go this low, then use the lowest setting you can and roast for a few minutes less.)
- Place the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
- Roast in oven for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Let cool before using.
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 Siegmiund B and Murkovic M. Changes in chemical composition of pumpkin seeds during the roasting process for production of pumpkin seed oil (Part 2: volatile compounds). Food Chemistry, Volume 84, Issue 3, February 2004, Pages 367-374.