Pumpkin seeds: benefits and other useful information

Pumpkins are not just a fun thing to have around for Halloween, they are a grocery item that stores many health benefits.
While people don’t actually eat the pumpkin itself, except the edible ones that we grow specifically for eating, the seeds are edible and they are actually quite healthy.

When did people first discovered pumpkins

Pumpkins as food have been around from as long as 5500 before Common Era. They are known to have originated in North America where they had multiple uses, among which medicinal, household use, decorative and in the kitchen.
Native Americans in the past would dry strips of pumpkin to make mats while people in the pre-Columbian era consumed a different variety of pumpkin as food.
More closely to our days, pumpkin was introduced as food in the seventieth century first as a mashed dish, then in various ways as women of the era introduced other recipes as per their own unique style.

Pumpkin seeds and their popularity around the world

Pumpkin seeds today are consumed in a variety of ways everywhere around the world.
• In Mexican cuisine, pumpkin seeds are referred to as pepitas, which are the hulled pumpkin seeds. They are eaten as is, although many times they are roasted, simple or with salt & spices and eaten as a snack.
Pepitas are also used to make sauces, such as Mole sauce also known as Pipians used to serve grilled meats or dips that are great to serve with tortilla chips.
• Pumpkin seeds are a staple ingredient in Asian cuisine where they are mostly consumed in salads or as a snack.
A popular Korean dish uses pumpkin flesh to make Hobakjuk, a type of porridge meal whereas in Japan kabocha squash is deep-fried, cooked into croquette or added to cake batter.
• In European cuisine, pumpkin seeds are widely used as a snack and often added to salads. In various cultures, a mix of honey and pumpkin seeds is used for therapeutic purposes to treat insomnia, bronchial asthma, intestinal worms and other conditions.

Pumpkin seeds nutrients and health benefits

A widely known purpose of pumpkin seeds is body detoxification. Pumpkin seeds are known to alleviate constipation and cleanse the body of parasites.
• They are an excellent source of antioxidants, particularly carotenoids largely found also in carrots and other orange-colored foods.
As such, pumpkin seeds are great for combating cardiovascular problems and improving heart health.
• They also contain ALA or alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acids known to prevent heart issues and help with atherosclerosis.
• Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, which is a very important nutrient for body functions. Zinc decreases the risk of infections in the body and helps fight against cancer.
• They contain magnesium, which helps with bone formation in children and supports healthy bones.
• They are high in fiber, and as such promote good digestion, and help with feeling full for a longer time.
You can consume a handful of pumpkin seeds a day to reap most of the benefits.
Knowing that 100 grams of pumpkin seeds contain approximately 30 grams of protein, 40 grams of fat, 70 grams of calcium, 16 grams of iron, 78 grams of calcium and 90 grams magnesium, you’re sure to receive a daily dose of good health with your meal every day.

Milk & milk products that you can make right at home

Cow’s milk has been a staple in people’s kitchen since a long time and it is an ingredient and a popular source of food that dates back to prehistoric times.
In Central Europe, people began drinking milk from as early as 7,500 years ago. First consumed as is, milk was discovered, could be used to make a variety of foods that we know of today.
People around the world use cow’s milk in our days to produce cheese, butter, sour cream, and yogurt and to cook up traditional foods.

A brief history of how people started drinking cow’s milk

Milking cows is a farming activity and one that allows people to use milk in a variety of ways to produce food.
The first people to discover that cow’s milk is good for human consumption were early farmers who domesticated animals for agricultural purposes and food necessities.
In those days, however, only a certain percentage of the population drank cow’s milk, particularly people in the northern region, studies have discovered, drank more milk to substitute for vitamin D deficiency.
The consumption of milk is now widespread and people everywhere use milk in various ways every day, not just to compliment coffee, but to make a variety of foods.

Here is how to make yogurt, cheese and butter at home

Homemade yogurt
You can make yogurt with milk bought from grocery stores or farmers’ market. People in Europe make yogurt from unpasteurized milk that they purchase directly from farmers.
Making yogurt is a simple process that requires bringing the milk to a boil, then allowing the milk to cool down at room temperature and storing the milk in glass jars.
The milk can be combined with sour cream to produce a creamier type of yogurt or with previously made yogurt so that it ferments faster.
This type of yogurt in the Balkans is called sour milk and it is a yogurt often consumed as beverage, but it is also added to bread when making dough and cake batter. You can follow the same recipe with store bought milk.

Homemade cheese
Cheese can also be made using raw milk or pasteurized milk.
One of the easiest cheeses you can make at home is farm-style cheese that requires only milk and fresh lemon juice. It’s a type of cheese you can add to salads, make into a dessert or use as filling for pies.
Recipe takes bringing the milk to a boil and stirring in the lemon juice when the milk starts boiling. This will separate the milk curds from the whey. The longer the curds cook, the more rubbery the texture, so if you prefer a more rubbery cheese, make sure to cook the curds longer.
Use cheesecloth to drain the curds or a strainer. You can complement the cheese with salt, pepper or other seasonings.

Homemade butter
Butter is produced from heavy cream and when making homemade butter, you’ll need a mixer, about 1 cup of cream and salt if you prefer your butter a bit salty.
Start with mixing the cream at low speed, gradually turning up the speed until the cream separates. Store the buttery solids in a mason jar and keep refrigerated for longer use.

How to make protein balls from dates and other healthy ingredients

Protein balls are some of the best foods you can consume prior or after a workout. They can be made from various ingredients, usually dates being the primary ingredient.
Others include oats, oat flour, coconut flour, cocoa, raisins, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts and other dried fruits.
Protein balls made with dates hold together very well since the dates are sticky, which is why they make such a wonderful ingredient for vegan sweets.

Here is how to make protein balls using dates and other healthy ingredients

• Use a food processor to process the dates or chop them by hand using a finely sharp knife.
If you need to chop the dates by hand, make sure you use soft dates so they’re easier to mash. Softer dates bring together all of the ingredients a lot easier.
• Put the dates in a large bowl and start adding other of your preferred ingredients. Lots of people add flours to the recipe for improved nutrition and texture. These are flours that you can consume without baking and include flours made from almonds, coconut, oats and quinoa.
Flours such as quinoa are a great ingredient to add to protein balls as they contain nutrients and vitamins that replenish your body and bring many health benefits.
• Add seeds and nuts to your liking, starting with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and sesame seeds among others.
You can choose seeds that contain the most beneficial nutrients for your health or simply use the ones you have available in your house.
• Honey can be added or chocolate chips if you prefer your protein balls on the sweet side. If you choose to add chocolate chips, preferably use dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is healthier and contains nutrients such as magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, potassium.
• Next, finely chop nuts like walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios and add to the ingredients. You can make your own flour blending any of the nuts if you prefer or add the nuts chopped for crunchiness.
Bring everything together and then use a tablespoon to form into balls. Protein balls are great for snacking and are a good alternative for trail mixes.
Remember you can create your own recipe adding other ingredients that you like, such as coconut oil, cocoa powder, dried raspberries, other dried fruit and spices such as turmeric.
Protein balls also called energy balls provide fuel for workouts, as not only do they contain protein and carbohydrates but also healthy fats and fiber. They help build muscle mass and help repair the body after a workout.