Pumpkin Seeds: Spicy or Sweet



PepitasLet’s face it: Kids like to snack. We all like to snack! And it’s so easy to toss a bag of tortilla chips or potato chips in your grocery cart….

And they are OH-so-lacking in nutritional value!

A serving of tortilla chips, for example, has 2 grams of protein–compared to the 21 grams in a serving of Spicy Jamaican Jerk Pepitas.

And the whopping 1,485 milligrams of sodium in a serving of barbecued potato chips? Try 5 grams in the Sweet Canadian Maple Pepitas below.

Even air-popped popcorn, which eliminates a lot of the bad stuff other packaged snacks carry, has only a couple of grams of protein and one quarter the dietary fiber of a serving of pepitas–and not much else.

Mid-October, when you’re cutting into a pumpkin to carve the traditional Halloween jack-o-lantern anyway, is the perfect time to prepare this tasty, protein-packed snack. Of course you can purchase raw pumpkin seeds instead of prepping your own–but where’s the fun in that?!


Step 1 – This part is messy work, so plan for it! Choose a surface you won’t mind cleaning up–the dining table, the kitchen floor, the porch–and lay down multiple layers of newspaper. Even the youngest child can help with this task.

Step 2 – Cut out the “lid” of the pumpkin. The shape of the hole doesn’t matter as long your children don’t dice their fingers! (Depending on the age and development of your child, you might want to do this step yourself.)

Step 3 – Let your kids get their hands in the pumpkin to pull out the pulp. Unless they’re especially squeamish, they’ll love this step! Have a large bowl at the ready–it’s amazing how much stringy, slimy pulp a little pumpkin packs. When they’ve taken the major part of the pulp out with their hands, they can scrape the innards with a spoon to get the rest.

Step 4 – Make sure the top is also scraped of pulp, and place it back on the pumpkin. (You can stop right now and carve your jack-o-lantern or set the pumpkin aside to carve later.)

Step 5 – Have your kids pull out the seeds from the bowl of pulp and place them in a separate bowl. They should try to remove as much of the slimy gunk as possible, but don’t worry about the little bits that cling to the seeds; they will dry up and shrivel during the cooking process. Plus, they add fiber to the recipe!

Step 6 – Place the bowl of seeds in the sink and run cold water into the bowl to clean them up a bit. Drain and shake in a colander, and you’re ready to go!




– 2 cups pumpkin seeds
– 2 tsp. olive oil*
– 3/4 tsp. allspice
– 1 crushed bay leaf
– 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp. chili powder
– 1 tsp. salt


Adult — Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Child — Measure pumpkin seeds and olive oil into bowl and stir to coat. Sprinkle spices over seeds and stir again. Spread seeds out in single layer on cookie sheet. Set timer for 10 minutes.

Adult — Place cookie sheet in oven on middle rack. After 10 minutes, stir seeds and roast another 10-15 minutes or until aromatic, crisp and browned, stirring every 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them the last few minutes of cooking so they don’t burn. Remove from oven, cool and serve.



– 2 cups pumpkin seeds
– 2 tsp. olive oil*
– 2 TBS. maple syrup


Adult — Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Child — Measure pumpkin seeds, olive oil and maple syrup into bowl and stir to coat. Spread seeds out in single layer on cookie sheet. Set timer for 10 minutes.

Adult — Place cookie sheet in oven on middle rack. After 10 minutes, stir seeds and roast another 10-15 minutes or until golden, crispy and aromatic, stirring every 5 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on them the last few minutes of cooking so they don’t burn. Remove from oven, cool and serve. Easy-peasy!

* NOTE: If you’re using dry story-bought pumpkin seeds instead of wet seeds fresh from the pumpkin, you’ll need to double the amount of oil.

After you’ve enjoyed these two versions of pepitas, visit Papa Green Bean’s blog for a discussion about letting kids use their creativity to experiment with other combinations of ingredients, or chowhound.com for 10 additional takes on this delicious, nutritious snack.
Yours for Healthy Eating,

Barbara Jean the Story Queen

Healthy Food

Pepitas recipes adapted  from weelicious.com and chowhound.com. Pumpkin seeding instructions and photos used with permission, John S. Green, papagreenbean.blogspot.com.



First, a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not a chef. I’m not even a mom. What I know about healthy food and healthy eating I’ve learned by reading and doing, just like you.

What I am is a children’s book author. A Story Queen! My area of expertise is FUN. In the last dozen years, I’ve written a number of entertaining, award-winning picture books–about monsters, cats, Disney princesses–and veggies, of all things. 

I’m big on imagination. Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli encourages kids (the way my dad encouraged my siblings and me) to think of broccoli as crunchy, munchy, fun-to-eat trees. Once Upon a Parsnip is a fairytale rematch between Little Red Riding Hood (a vegetarian) and the Big Bad Wolf (NOT a vegetarian). Scary fun!

On the surface, neither of my veggie books is really about healthy eating–they’re just plain fun. But the fun is subversive: both books introduce and normalize the idea of eating healthy, fresh-from-the-garden vegetables. (Never underestimate the power of fun to get your kids to try something new!)

My goal in these pages is to find and share fun ways to introduce fresh fruits and vegetables to children and to normalize healthy foods and healthy eating in their experience. My means is to expose them–through you, their parents and caregivers–to food-friendly books, videos, downloadable and printable posters and coloring pages, hands-on activities and kid-friendly recipes. Anything that equates healthy food and FUN!

I’m here for you–to help you make healthy eating feel as natural to your children as breathing.

Because healthy food and healthy fun make healthy kids. And that’s something all of us can get behind.


Barbara Jean Hicks, a.k.a. “The Story Queen”

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To purchase signed, personalized copies of my picture books, visit the “Books” page on my website.  To contact me about my well regarded young author presentations for schools, or for other enquiries, send an email from the “Contact” page at barbarajeanhicks.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

2 responses on “Pumpkin Seeds: Spicy or Sweet

  1. John S Green says:

    Thanks for the peptia article. Timely! I also appreciate the link to m article. Since I wrote that a friend introduced me to the novel and brilliant method of bolling the seeds with salted water.It cuts the oven time in half and yield plump tasty seeds. I’ll be updating soon.

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