Are Squash Seeds just a fall snack?
Absolutely not. Under normal circumstances, in the United States, winter squash are available year-round in the local markets. Those squash commonly eaten, such as butternut or spaghetti squash, have seeds that are ideally suited for this, as well as, those mountains of pumpkins and colorful winter squash that stack up sometime in late August or early September and usually hang around until just about hollowing.
Not realizing it, you’ve probably been throwing away a lot of nutritious food without realizing it. All those butternut squash seeds and spaghetti squash seeds make an excellent snack. So the next time you have spaghetti squash for dinner or decide to bake a butternut squash, you may not want to put those proceeds into your trash or into your compost bin. They are an opportunity to provide a healthy nutritious snack, which can be spiced up and seasoned according to your family’s preferences. And since squash seeds are obviously finger food, you may find that your children love this healthy snack.
But first, let’s address a big question here.
Are Pumpkin Seeds and Squash Seeds the Same?
The answer is yes, and no. While a lot of people use these words interchangeably, there’s a slight difference: all pumpkins are squashes, but not all squashes are pumpkins. Basically, winter squash is a term that defines the family in which pumpkins belong, along with butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and other types of squash. You can differentiate between different types of squash by their sizes, colors, and the characteristics of their stems. Their seeds slightly vary depending on the type, too, so we will simply group them together and refer to them as winter squash here in this post, for the sake of clarity.
Nutritional Value of Squash Seeds
1 cup of squash seeds, which is around 64 grams, contains:
- Calories: 285.4 kcal
- Fat: 12.4 g
- Protein: 11.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 34.4 g
- Fiber: 11.8 g (48% of daily value)
- Sodium: 1626.2 mg (68% of daily value)
- Potassium: 588.2 mg
- Calcium: 35.2 mg
- Iron: 2.1 mg
The seeds also contain magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
Eating squash seeds can offer a lot of health benefits. Here are some of them:
- Since these seeds are high in protein and fiber content, they will keep you full for a longer time and eliminate cravings. So, these are perfect snacks when you’re trying to lose weight or introduce healthier eating habits to your kids. Substituting chips or pretzels with these seeds are also a great, healthy choice. However, you should always stick with the suggested daily serving quantities, as these snacks are still calorie-dense. Eating more seeds than the suggested amount can lead to weight gain, so you need to mind the quantity.
- The fiber content in these seeds can help to combat health issues such as diabetes, abnormal blood sugar levels, and irregular cholesterol levels. You should definitely add squash seeds to your daily diet to increase your fiber intake.
- These seeds also contain an important amino acid component known as tryptophan that is useful to induce sleep. However, you’d need to consume a larger quantity than your recommended daily intake to make it work.
- Another major benefit provided by these seeds is the presence of antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to help break down harmful toxins in your body and cleanse your internal organs. They can protect your heart and prevent various types of cancer.
- Squash seeds are also high in vitamin E, which can promote healthy skin and hair while providing some anti-aging properties. Apart from these, vitamin E can also boost your liver, heart, and brain health.
All these health benefits should be enough reason to include squash seeds in your daily diet. However, as we’ve warned before, be sure to avoid consuming these in larger quantities due to their high-fat content and calorie count.
How to Eat Squash Seeds
A lot of people prefer to consume these seeds in their raw form. They have an amazing buttery and nutty flavor and can also be eaten roasted or baked. In this section, we’ll discuss the simplest ways of preparing butternut or spaghetti squash seeds, which is by roasting or baking them.
1. Roasted Butternut or Spaghetti Squash Seeds
Roasting butternut or spaghetti squash seeds is the easiest way of preparing them, whether to be eaten in their plain form or to be used in recipes. You can easily roast them at home without having to go for store-bought ones, which will help you save money. All you need is a butternut or spaghetti squash, some oil, a resealable bag, a pan, and a stove. It’d be wasteful to throw away the seeds after eating or using the butternut or spaghetti squash.
- Cut open the butternut or spaghetti squash using a sharp knife. This step can be a little tricky, and sometimes downright hard. Be careful with the knife and open the butternut or spaghetti squash through the center.
- You will see the seeds in the central cavity of the fruit. The flesh of the butternut or spaghetti squash can be slimy and wet, so you’ll have to separate and remove the seeds carefully using a spoon or your fingers.
- Wash the seeds thoroughly to remove any leftover flesh and pulp. Once done, let them dry at room temperature for a while (preferably overnight). This step is crucial as it will ensure even coating of oil and create the perfect roast.
- Once dried, coat all seeds evenly using vegetable oil. You can use any oil of your preference. We’d recommend using extra virgin olive oil as it is the healthiest option and the most suitable one for a healthy diet. Use as little oil as possible to keep the calorie content low. Measure the appropriate amount of oil depending on the number of seeds you’re using and put them in the resealable bag. Shake the bag to mix the seeds well and to let the oil coat them evenly.
- Next, transfer the contents of the bag to a pan and roast them over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
- When done, let them cool at room temperature, then transfer them to an airtight container for storage.
2. Baked Butternut or Spaghetti Squash Seeds
A few people prefer baking butternut or spaghetti squash seeds to use them in dishes. Baked butternut or spaghetti squash seeds also taste amazing when eaten raw.
Here, we’ll give you the simplest and most basic recipe to make baked butternut or spaghetti squash seeds.
- 1 cup of dried butternut or spaghetti squash seeds
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- A pinch of salt.
Equipment: Baking sheet, parchment paper or aluminum foil, a resealable plastic bag, and of course, an oven.
You can follow the same steps to extract the seeds from the butternut or spaghetti squash and dry them, as mentioned above.
- Put the seeds, oil, and the optional pinch of salt in the resealable bag and mix well to coat the seeds evenly. Meanwhile, set the oven to 300°F to preheat.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. This step will allow for easier cleanup. Spread the oil-coated seeds on the parchment paper and put the baking sheet into the oven.
- Bake for around 15 minutes, or until you can hear a popping sound. Once they are done, remove the tray from the oven and let the seeds cool for a few hours at room temperature.
Your baked butternut or spaghetti squash seeds are ready to eat. You can season them as you please, to eat them as a snack, or store them in an airtight container for later use.
Apart from the basic butternut or spaghetti squash seeds, you can also consider roasting and baking the seeds of various other types of winter squash, such as butternut squash, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and the leftover seeds of Jack-o-lanterns. Each type of seed slightly varies in taste and size, but they all provide high nutritional value. You can experiment with all kinds, depending on the season and availability.
Varies Ways to Prepare Roasted and Baked Butternut or Spaghetti Squash Seeds
Now that you’ve learned the basics of roasting and baking these seeds, we’ll take a look at a few ways of using them in different recipes and dishes.
1. Popular Seasoning Blends
You can use seasoning to add flavor and character to your butternut or spaghetti squash seeds, which will make for a great appetizer, side dish, or healthy snack for you and your family. There are a lot of seasoning combinations and flavors that you can easily buy from the store or online. Some of the most popular seasoning blends that go well with these seeds are taco seasoning, Cajun seasoning, and Indian garam masala or chaat masala.
To make deliciously seasoned butternut or spaghetti squash seeds at home, we’ll share four seasoning blend recipes with you.
Spicy Seasoning: Mix 1/8 teaspoon of chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin powder, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add it to roasted or baked seeds and mix thoroughly.
Lemon and Pepper Blend: Mix 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper, and a pinch of salt. Drizzle it on your butternut or spaghetti squash seeds.
Creole Seasoning: Mix 1/8 teaspoon of chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper powder, 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper powder, a pinch of mixed herbs, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add it to roasted or baked seeds and mix thoroughly.
Italian Seasoning: Now, this seasoning combination will need a few more ingredients than the usual, but it’s worth the effort. To make this, mix 4 teaspoons of oregano, 4 teaspoons of basil, 4 teaspoons of rosemary, 4 teaspoons of thyme, 4 teaspoons of marjoram, 4 teaspoons of savory, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add it to roasted or baked seeds and mix thoroughly.
These are just a few ideas to serve as an inspiration to make your seed-snack delicious. You can also experiment with your own seasoning combinations and flavor ideas.
2. Homemade Granola Bars
Making granola bars at home is another healthy and delicious way to use butternut or spaghetti squash seeds. It is super easy and takes only around 10 to 15 minutes to prepare.
- 1/2 cup of peanut or almond butter
- 1 1/5 cups of dried fruit or nuts (raisins, cranberries, almonds, cherries, etc.)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup of honey
- 1 1/2 cups of rolled oats
- 1/2 cup of butternut or spaghetti squash seeds
- 1/2 cup of sunflower or sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup of coconut flakes (preferably unsweetened, optional), a pinch of salt, and some oil.
- Mix all the wet ingredients together. Meanwhile, set the oven to 300°F to preheat.
- Next, add all the dry ingredients to the mix and fold until combined. Use one or two teaspoons of water, if needed, to adjust the consistency of the mixture.
- Spread the mixture on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Shape the mixture into bars depending on the size and thickness you want. Don’t make them too thick, though, as they won’t cook evenly.
- Place the bars in the oven and bake for around 20 to 22 minutes. Once done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a while.
- When the bars have been cooled, refrigerate them for about an hour. Wrap them and place them in an airtight container for storage.
You can also prepare these granola bars in huge batches and wrap them in parchment paper to store them for 7 to 10 days. These are great for snacking and can be included in a healthy diet.
3. Breakfast Cereal
You can also use butternut or spaghetti squash seeds directly on your cereal, oatmeal, or granola for breakfast. Use oats, peanut butter, butternut or spaghetti squash seeds, and berries for a delicious and nutritious breakfast idea.
How Long Can Roasted or Baked Seeds Be Stored?
Roasted or baked butternut or spaghetti squash seeds can be stored for a pretty long time provided they are kept in airtight containers in a dark, dry, and cool place. Even though they don’t necessarily go bad within a few weeks, it’s better to use them while they are still fresh. You can store roasted butternut or spaghetti squash seeds at room temperature for about three months to enjoy them fresh and delicious. And to prevent them from going stale for about a year, you can keep them in the refrigerator.
We hope that we’ve managed to pique your curiosity about butternut or spaghetti squash and squash seeds with this post. Instead of tossing them, you can now go ahead and use them in various recipes. Or, you can always enjoy them as a healthy and nutritious snack. We’re sure you’ll understand what we’re talking about on your very first attempt!