Why you should get to know the powerful pepita. 

Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

It's easy to roast pumpkin seeds for a quick snack or as a topping for salads or soups. Just toss pumpkin seeds with a little olive oil and spices, and roast—it's that easy!

Photo: Jim Franco

You may only know of pumpkin seeds as those tiny ovular discs that lurk inside the goop you scoop into your garbage disposal come Jack-O-Lantern carving time. But if you’ve been tossing them instead of roasting them, you’ve been missing out. Known as pepitas in Latin cooking, pumpkin seeds add a crunchy, nutty note to everything from tacos to granola. They’re even great for snacking on by themselves.

All you need do is rinse them off the stringy pumpkin innards, dry them, place on a baking sheet, and roast with a sprinkle of salt and olive oil at 300 degrees 30 minutes. Then you can use them in any recipe you might use nuts, sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds. Here’s what they’ll give you in return.

Added prostate and bladder protection: Pumpkin seeds have been known to reduce urinary tract infections and boost the health of those with overactive bladder conditions.

  • Zippy zinc: One serving of pumpkin seeds has up to 22 percent of the zinc the average adult needs in their diet which promotes stress reduction, faster healing, and immune system benefits.

  • Good fats: A snack of pepitas will not only keep you full without a ton of calories, they also impart a good mix of poly-and-monounsaturated fats like the kinds you’ll find in salmon or olive oil.

  • Fast fiber: A hand-full of pumpkin seeds can give you an added dose of fiber for those looking to add more to their diet.

  • Mighty magnesium: Most people don’t get enough of this mineral, but just a half cup of seeds contains almost all the daily value you need in one day.