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HOW TO DRY AND ROAST PUMPKIN SEEDS

roasted pumpkin seedsDrying or roasting pumpkin seeds is a great way to store a nutrition-packed snack in your pantry for months after you are done carving your Halloween pumpkins. After carving pumpkins with my family this year, I didn’t want the pumpkin seeds to go to waste, which are a powerful source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. One ounce, or about 1/3 cup, contains 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of healthy fats. 

pumpkin seedsWashing and drying your seeds is super easy, and worth the effort for all that nutrition. You can store the seeds for later, or roast and eat them right away! If you just dry out your seeds (no roasting), they can last for up to a year if stored in a cool pantry. After roasting, you can keep them in your pantry for up to 2 months.

Here are the super easy steps below.

STEP 1: HOW TO WASH PUMPKIN SEEDS

  1. Place pumpkin seeds in a bowl (along with stringy pulp), and fill the bowl with water. How to wash pumpkin seeds2. Gently massage the seeds with your hands to separate them from the pumpkin pulp. As the seeds separate, they float to the top of the water, where you can easily scoop them out.How to remove pumpkin seeds from pulp3. Place the seeds into a colander and run water over them to rinse off any remaining pumpkin strings.How to remove pumpkin seeds from pulp4. Pour the pumpkin seeds onto a clean kitchen towel, and gently pat them dry (they will not become completely dry – this is just to get off any excess water from washing them).How to remove pumpkin seeds from pulp

STEP 2: CHOOSE TO DRY OR ROAST YOUR PUMPKIN SEEDS

Once your pumpkin seeds have been cleaned, you basically have two choices: 1) dry and store the seeds (with no oil or seasonings) for longer term storage 2) Roast and store the seeds for consumption within the next 2 months.

When choosing whether to merely dry and store, or roast your pumpkin seeds, the important thing to consider is whether or not you want to eat your seeds within the next couple of months, or save them for later use. Dried seeds last for about a year, whereas seeds roasted in oil last for up to 2 months in your pantry. If you merely dry your seeds without roasting them in oil and seasonings, you will have more versatility in recipes and for use later.

OPTION 1: DRY YOUR SEEDS (easiest and can be preserved up to 1 year)

  1. Turn your oven to the lowest setting – mine was 170 degrees – so that it is warm, not hot (you just want to dry the moisture out of your seeds, not roast them). Place your pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet, spreading them out so that they are in one layer without overlapping as much as possible. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 3-4 hours, or until they are dry, stirring each hour.How to dry and store pumpkin seeds without roasting them

2. After the seeds have dried, allow them to cool completely before storing (if you store them while they are still warm, that can cause moisture to develop in your storage container and cause mold growth). Put the dried, cooled seeds into an airtight container, and store in a cool, dark pantry. How long they last depends on storage conditions – the cooler, drier, and darker the storage, the longer they last for up to 1 year.

SOMETHING TO AVOID: When I was first experimenting, I just let my seeds dry overnight, without drying them out in the oven. Since they seemed to be completely dry in the morning, I just threw them into a storage container in my pantry. Mistake! About a week later, I noticed fuzzy white mold growing on the seeds. So even if your seeds appear to be dry, do NOT skip the step of drying them out in your oven!

OPTION 2: ROAST YOUR SEEDS (enjoy for immediate snacking, or in your pantry for up to 2 months)

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  2. After washing your seeds and patting them dry, toss them in a little bit of olive oil (about 1 tsp per cup of seeds) and salt to taste.
  3. Spread seeds onto a baking sheet in a single layer.How to roast pumpkin seeds
  4. Place your baking sheet in the oven, and roast the seeds for 10 minutes. Remove the seeds from the oven, stir, and roast them for another 8-10 minutes.How to roast pumpkin seeds
  5. Remove the seeds from the oven, and allow them to cool completely. Place cooled seeds in an airtight storage container, and store in a cool pantry for up to 2 months. Pull them out whenever you want a healthy, protein-filled snack!How to store roasted pumpkin seeds

Options for storing pumpkin seeds:

  • Canning jar (This is my preferred method, because it is airtight, keeps bugs out, and I am able to see through the jar to make sure none of the seeds are becoming moldy.)
  • Airtight ziplock bags
  • Vacuum packaging
  • Airtight plastic container

Extra tips:

  • Pack food in amounts that can be used all at once (food is exposed to air and moisture every time it is opened, which decreases quality).
  • For dried seeds to last the longest and maintain their nutrition, it is important to store them in a cool, dry, dark area. If you don’t have a cool pantry to store them in, you can also store them in your refrigerator or freezer. When they are stored at cooler temperatures, they last longer.

 

 

Healthy Chocolate Almond Smoothie

how to use frozen bananas, healthy chocolate smoothie

I love this smoothie for a healthy treat, and it is also the perfect way to use frozen bananas in a tasty recipe! It is a much healthier option than many desserts, because it uses mostly whole food ingredients that are packed with nutrition. If you want to add even more nutritional value, add a handful of spinach before blending – I often do this, and you can’t even tell!

(Serves 2)

INGREDIENTS

2 whole, frozen bananas
1 1/2 cups milk (I prefer an almond-coconut blend)
2 Tbsp toasted almonds
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (at least 70%, or as dark as you prefer)
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 pitted dates
Dash of nutmeg (optional for serving)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender. The bananas should be used frozen, but allow them to thaw for 5-10 minutes in the blender to allow for easier blending. Turn the blender up to high speed, and mix at high speed until ingredients are blended and smooth.
  2. To serve: Pour the smoothie into glasses, and serve with a dash of nutmeg if desired. The smoothie is best if served right away, when it is still chilled.

Banana-Oat Pancakes (Gluten and Sugar Free)

gluten and sugar free pancakes

I got this recipe from a friend of mine, and it is now my favorite pancake recipe! It is so easy, and is a perfect way to use ripe bananas that you have on hand.

INGREDIENTS

2 whole, ripe bananas (if using frozen bananas, allow them to thaw first)
1 cup rolled oats
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
Dash of salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend on high speed until the mixture forms a smooth batter.
  2. To cook: pour pancake-sized amounts of batter onto a lightly greased skillet or frying pan that has been heated to medium-low heat. Cook the pancakes until small bubbles start to form on the top (about 1 minute), and flip them over to cook for an additional minute on the other side, or until the pancakes are lightly browned on each side. (Note: These pancakes cook faster than some traditional pancakes, so be sure to keep your eye on them!)
  3. Serve pancakes with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

How to Freeze Bananas

 

Frozen bananas stackedWhy do we want bananas in our food storage? They are rich in potassium, fiber, vitamin C, Vitamin B-6, and magnesium. Also, they taste great and add variety to your food storage!

Bananas are one of my favorite items to have around because I use them all the time. I love them for their nearly daily use in smoothies, for banana ice cream, and one of my favorite pancake recipes!

It can save you money to buy bananas in bulk, or sometimes the grocery store will sell their ripe bananas at a discount price. I recently bought a 40lb box of bananas for $11 (27.5 cents/lb). It gave me roughly 100 bananas to preserve. Freezing is an easy way to preserve them – see how below.

EASY STEPS TO FREEZE WHOLE BANANAS

I think this is the easiest method, and is great if you want to use your bananas in smoothies, to make banana ice cream, or basically any recipe that calls for bananas. 

  1. Wait until bananas are ripe to the point of being a deep yellow color with brown spots. Peel bananas and place them side by side on a cookie sheet, leaving space between them so that they don’t touch. I break the bananas in half for easier use after freezing.Ripe banana ready for freezing
  2. Place cookie sheet in the freezer for several hours, until the bananas feel solid and are frozen through.How to freeze bananas on a cookie sheet
  3. After bananas are frozen, place them in freezer bags. Removing as much air as possible, seal and date the bags. Gallon sized ziplock bags work great. I especially like this method for storing because you can easily stack bags of bananas on top of each other in the freezer, using your space efficiently. frozen bananas labeled ziplock bag

Storage: Keep bananas frozen for up to 12 months for maximum nutritional quality.

HOW TO USE FROZEN BANANAS

You can use frozen bananas in nearly any recipe that calls for bananas. For most recipes, just thaw and use the bananas as you would normally use fresh ones. Here are some of my favorite recipes where I like to use my frozen bananas.

Healthy Chocolate Almond Smoothie

Banana-Oat Pancakes (Gluten and Sugar Free)

Strawberry-Banana Ice Cream (Dairy Free)

Strawberry Milkshake