There are many treats associated with Halloween, but one under-appreciated treat are baked pumpkin seeds. They are healthy, crunchy, and can be flavored to taste. Balancing out all that candy and sugar, baked pumpkin seeds can be a great snack between meals rather than digging once again into the bag of chocolate bars.
Baking pumpkin seeds is relatively easy to do, much easier than most of the more elaborate Halloween snacks and treats. First, the fun part, and something your kids can help with. When first carving out the top of the pumpkin to remove the interior, have whoever is the least resistant to getting gunky (typically the youngest and often a boy) separate out the seeds from the stringy messy interior. It is not critical if they miss some, as if you carve three or four pumpkins you will have plenty of seeds. It is important that you don’t let your youngster (or anyone else involved in pulling out the pumpkin intestines) touch anything before washing their hands!
Wash the seeds in a colander or strainer. This doesn’t have to be too exacting as nothing unhealthy or inedible is on them, but they will cook better if they are clean. Let the seeds dry on a paper towel. Drying in the sun is an excellent way to prepare them, but they also can be left on a countertop.
Take a baking tray and spray with non-stick spray or vegetable oil. Alternately you can put a sheet of aluminum foil over the tray but it is still advisable to use the spray or oil. Separate the seeds so they are not clumped up as they will not cook properly. A light coat of vegetable oil on the seeds will keep them from drying out excessively.
At this point comes the flavoring, though the seeds are perfectly good without anything. You can sprinkle regular salt, garlic salt, lemon pepper, or any other relatively mild spice or something stronger if you wish. But don’t overdo it or you will lose the natural flavor of the seeds.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. You can heat it up more to be done faster, but they are susceptible to burning if you do. Lower heat will not make them any tastier, pumpkin seeds are not steak. Put the tray of seeds in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning once. They should be brown and slightly crispy (some like them more than slightly crispy). Allow them to cool, then they should be ready to eat.
Chances are good that you will have more than you need, so store the remaining in an airtight container or bag, they should remain good for quite some time. Enjoy!