Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

photo 5

Roasted pumpkin seeds! Arguably the best part of carving jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, these little nuggets are PACKED with vitamins and minerals, and one of the World Health Organization’s recommended sources of the mineral zinc (which is vital for a lot of biological functions in the human body: cell growth and division; fertility; immune system; taste, smell and appetite; skin, hair and nails. Basically, you need that sh*t). Plus, they have almost 10 grams of protein per 1/4 of a cup of seeds – they are pretty much nutritional overachievers.

The best part? Pumpkin seeds are like little blank canvases for whatever taste you’re craving. You can have them plain, salted, spicy, sweet….you name it. Without further ado, here’s what you do!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Step 1: Remove those little guys from the pumpkin and set them aside.

Roll up your sleeves and get ready to get your hands dirty, because this is the most fun part! They usually come in clusters, so try to grab the majority of a cluster and remove them from the pumpkin (instead of ambiguously digging through the pumpkin “pulp”). Set them aside on a plate or dish.

photo 3

If you’re cooking your pumpkin, it’s much easier to remove after it’s been cut in half. If not, then roll up your sleeves because (in the words of Christina Aguilera) it’s going get diiiiirtyyy!

Step 2: Clean those babies.

Your pumpkin seeds will be kinda slimy and covered in orange pumpkin pulp. Do your best to pick out the larger pieces of pulp and any sketchy-looking seeds. Once they have been picked over, dump them into a colander and give them a good rinse. Ready to get your hands dirty again? While running water over your seeds, sift through them and try to pick out any pieces of pumpkin that snuck by.

photo 2

See those pieces of pumpkin pulp in there? You want to remove all of that and clean your seeds well before roasting.

Step 3: Dry ’em off.

Place into a shallow dish or large plate lined with paper towel and pat them dry. They will stick to the paper towel, just gently remove them. They don’t have to be bone dry, but remove the excess water the best you can.

Step 4: Boil those suckers. (Optional)

Add the pumpkin seeds to a medium-sized pot of water along with 1 tsp salt. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes over low-medium heat. Apparently, this method helps make the pumpkin seeds easier to digest and produces a crispy outer shell during roasting. I almost never do this because I am the most impatient lady on the face of the Earth, and I just want to eat them. But I’ll throw it out there if you are trying to achieve Pumpkin Seed Perfection. If you boil them, just drain back into the colander and repeat Step 3.

Step 5: Prepare for take-off (/roasting).
photo 2

Salty Pumpkin Seeds ready for roastin’!

Spread the seeds in a single layer on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Time for options!

Salty: Drizzle a little olive oil (just enough to lightly coat the seeds), toss the seeds until they are coated and sprinkle sea salt to taste.

Savory: Drizzle a little olive oil (just enough to lightly coat the seeds) and toss the seeds until they are coated in oil. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 teaspoon each garlic, salt, cumin, coriander and cardamom. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the seeds until they are evenly coated.

Spicy: Drizzle a little olive oil (just enough to lightly coat the seeds) and toss the seeds until they are coated in oil. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 teaspoon each onion powder, salt, chili powder, cumin. If desired, add 1/4 tsp (or less) of cayenne pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the seeds until they are evenly coated.

Sweet: Drizzle a little oil (coconut is my fave, you’ll have to melt it in the microwave first) and toss the seeds until they are coated in oil. Mix 1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger and 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle over the seeds.

Step 6: Roast ’em.

Once you’ve chosen your pumpkin seed flavor adventure, roast the seeds at 325°F for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and stir (this will ensure they cook evenly). Roast for another 8-10 minutes (if your oven temp is off, this could vary a lot!). During the last 5 minutes of roasting, remove a few seeds and crack open to make sure the inner seeds are not burning (you don’t want the inner seed brown, and they cook faster than the outer husk). Cool a couple and pop them into your mouth to test. Roast until they are just crisp and golden (they should not be brown). They will become crispier as they cool.

photo 3

Roasted Salty Pumpkin Seeds

Step 7: Enjoy! 😛

These pumpkin seeds are some of my favorite fall snacks, and they never last long around my kitchen (especially when they are hot out of the oven). Hope you enjoy them!

– L

Roasted Pumpkin, Beet, Chickpea and Barley Un-Salad

Despite it being a very un-autumn 81 degrees and sunny in Boston yesterday, I decided to quest on with my farm market haul roasting party. Pumpkin, beets, green beans, oh my! You also may wonder: WTF is an un-salad? An un-salad is the only type of salad that qualifies under my sister J’s personal preference requirement – a salad without lettuce/leafy greens as the primary component. Give it any other vegetable/grain base and she’s all for it. Ain’t nothing wrong with that – un-salads are salads too, man. This particular one is especially tasty, not too complicated and gets you into the autumn spirit faster than you can say “Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte!”

photo 1

Ingredients for Roasted Pumpkin, Beet, Chickpea and Barley Un-Salad. Disregard that tofu – I was just making my weekly ration of Best Tofu Ever simultaneously!

I also like to point out that this meal is 3 for the price of 1 (or ~3 1/2 really, with the pumpkin seeds – more on that later). You have the un-salad, roasted pumpkin and  roasted beets. They can be eaten together, separately, used in other things. You can break up the components completely and have it any way you damn well please. How fun is that? I’ll tell you how I made mine last night, and you can go from there!

Roasted Pumpkin, Beet, Chickpea and Barley Un-Salad

Ingredients

For the un-salad:

1 15.5 oz can chickpeas*

1 cup of barley**

~2 cups green beans, ends trimmed and sliced into halves***

1 pound sugar pumpkin, unpeeled and sliced thinly***

3 medium beets, peeled, trimmed and sliced

Optional: goat’s cheese and toasted pepitas to top it off

*Or 1/2 cup of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in a bowl of cold water. You would drain, rinse and add these in to cook with the barley.

**Or pearl barley, but I couldn’t find that at Stop N’Shop. Or, substitute your favorite gluten-free grain!

***My pumpkin was way bigger, and I used several handfuls of green beans because I really like them – see image.

For the dressing:

3 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil*

3 Tbsp pure maple syrup

3 Tbsp white wine vinegar

2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (at least – I used much more, you can’t really overdo it)

*Usually coconut oil is solid at room temperature, I microwaved it for ~30 seconds to melt it in order to incorporate it into the dressing.

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Start prepping your veggies. Set aside your pumpkin seeds for later – we will be doing something fun with those tomorrow! 🙂

photo 5

Chop the pumpkin in thin slices. Make sure your knife is sharp enough, you don’t want to be hacking away at the pumpkin with a dull knife.

photo 2

Scoop the pumpkin seeds out and set aside. I rinsed, drained, patted them dry and put them in a mason jar to save for tonight’s recipe.

2. Meanwhile, cook the barley in a medium saucepan of boiling water, about 20 minutes or until tender. Add the chickpeas and green beans to the pan during the last minute of cooking time. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Set aside.

3. Make the dressing: combine all the ingredients in a screw top jar, season with salt and pepper to taste, and shake well to combine. Divide the dressing into three portions.

4. Once your pumpkin and beets are ready for roasting, toss them in about 1/3 of the dressing each and place them in a lined baking dish. Make sure your pumpkin and beets are in a single layer to roast, otherwise it takes forever. Roast about 30 – 40 minutes or until caramelized and tender.

photo 1

Pumpkin slices tossed in dressing and ready to go in the oven. Once they are lightly coated, place them in a single layer – they will roast much faster.

photo 4

Beets tossed in dressing and ready to go into the oven. I sliced my beets in thin-ish slices and then quartered the slices to make them a little more “bite size” out of personal preference. As you can see, I really went for it with the fresh thyme.

photo 3

It’s totally okay if your hands make you look like an ax murderer after chopping the beets. It gets you right into the Halloween spirit! I promise it comes off (eventually).

5. Here’s where you have some options:

a.) Combine the barley, chickpeas, green beans*, pumpkin, beets and remaining dressing in a large bowl. Toss gently.

b.) Combine the barley, chickpeas and green beans with the remaining dressing and toss. Top with pumpkin and beets (keeping them separate).

I chose option b.) because I had a huuuuuge amount of pumpkin and have big plans for the leftovers this week.

*If you forgot, like I did yesterday, to add the green beans in with the barley during the last minute of cooking time, no worries! I just steamed my beans for 2 minutes and added them at the end.

photo 2

Beets roasted and ready to be chomped. Once roasted, you should be able to stick a fork through them, but they should not be total mush.

photo 1

Pumpkin slices after roasting. You should easily be able to stick a fork through these when they are done.

6. Serve the un-salad sprinkled with cheese and pepitas, if desired. Enjoy!

photo 5

Roasted Pumpkin, Beet, Chickpea and Barley Salad

I am pretty jazzed about this recipe, it’s really good. I especially like that I can pick and choose what version I want to eat when I chow the leftovers. All of the components are delicious separately, and together they are bangin’! It also looks pretty, so you can impress your friends or significant other with all your mad cooking skillz (even if you’re not really Top Chef material).

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I’m not going to lie, I put a pretty significant dent in the roasted pumpkin eating the slices straight out of the pan while I was waiting for the beets to be done. YUM!

In unrelated news, my knee is doing much better. I count myself especially lucky and didn’t push it by going to the gym this morning. Rest days are the best days, especially when you have some delish veggie sh*t to eat.

Happy Hump Day! (insert camel emoji) 😉

L

42 Seconds

Sweat was dripping down my face and my elbows were getting rug burns as I desperately pulled myself forward. Grunting, I thought, “This will all be worth it in 7 days. This will all be worth it in 7 days.” Pain seared down my legs. I squeezed my eyes shut and heaved my body forward one last time.

I was having a special moment with my foam roller.

Why so sore you ask? Well, as you can see from the countdown on my blog, my first half marathon is in 6 days. I’ve been pushing myself extra hard at the gym and on my training runs, trying to get those legs in tip-top shape so I can run my heart out for those 13.1 miles. Yesterday was a big day for me. I had been getting jittery and nervous last week as I watched those countdown numbers slowly tick down, and I promised myself I would crank out one last “long” (for me) practice run to convince myself I could do it. I set my sights on 10 miles. 10 miles, I could do it, no big deal. I woke up yesterday feeling good, made myself an amazing breakfast, my Autumn-themed overnight oats:

photo(6)

L’s Autumn Overnight Oats with banana, cranberry compote, blueberries, delicata squash and almond butter; topped with pumpkin seeds, cinnamon and a swirl of maple syrup.

You can find my recipe for overnight oats here: Overnight Oats. This time, I topped my oats with blueberries, banana, almond butter, leftover roasted delicata squash, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, a little maple syrup and a quick cranberry compote. I had leftover cranberries from another recipe and whipped this up:

Quick Cranberry Compote
Ingredients

1 cup of fresh cranberries

1 – 2 Tbsp raw coconut sugar

Directions: Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat, and cook about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until berries start to pop but are still whole. Transfer to a bowl to cool; serve.

Optional: A splash of orange juice and zest of a quarter of an orange, but I had neither on hand. You can also increase the sugar to 1/2 cup if you want something sweeter, I really like the tartness of the cranberries with the other fruits in my oats, so I kept the sugar minimal.

The delicata squash I roasted for a snack on Saturday and put the leftover in the fridge. I scooped out about half of my leftover squash for the oats. (All I did was cut the squash in half length-wise, scoop the seeds out and lightly brush some melted soy butter over the inside. Roast at 450F for ~30 minutes for delicious, soft and creamy delicata squash. Easy peasy).

photo 2

Roasted Delicata Squash

Anywho, after I chomped that down and did a little tidying up, my “Booyah!” attitude was flagging. The little voice of doubt in my head started up.

– I don’t want to do this.

– You HAVE to do this, it’s the last Sunday before your race.

(etc, etc…I’ll spare you my 20 minute internal monologue – you get the idea)

I laced my sneakers up, picked a good song to start out, and pushed myself out the front door. It was crisp and sunny, and the fall colors were really amping up their game. You got this, I said.

photo(6)

Dude, my shoelaces match the leaves.

I had one of those runs where you surprise yourself, when the choppy robot-lady voice from the Nike+ app interrupts your song: One mile completed. Average pace: nine minutes and fifteen seconds. As I racked up my miles, my pace did not deviate. I couldn’t believe it. It’s only a matter of time before my pace slows down to “normal,” or so I thought.

Five miles. Average pace: nine minutes and twenty-one seconds. (I then ate my mocha energy gel).

My legs were under protest, but I kept going. One foot in front of the other. Up, down. Up, down. I said all of my mantras to myself. I made up new ones. I hummed along to my music. Don’t slow down, I said.

Ten miles. Average pace: nine minutes and twenty seconds.

Let’s make it 11 miles. One more mile, you can do this, I said.

Robot lady: Eleven miles…I ripped off my headphones. I did it! BOO-freaking-YAH!

In the end, I shaved off 42 seconds from my mile split time. 42 seconds: half a minute, plus 12 seconds. I have not had that much of a jump in my speed since I started running consistently. I am walking like I just got off a horse today, and thinking about foam rolling my legs again tonight makes me cringe, but who the hell cares. 42 seconds!! Hells yeah!

Moral of today’s story: Get out there and do it. You might not want to, but you always have the potential to surprise yourself. 🙂

Happy Monday/Columbus Day!

– L (who today, has no legs).

😛

L’s Overnight Oats (aka My Breakfast Erryday)

Good Morning All!

Every morning, I get out of the gym, sling my overstuffed gym bag into my trunk and start thinking about what lies ahead for my day. After all those burpees, planks, squats, spin class, whatever my morning workout consists of, my mind is (usually) laser-focused on my to-do list. Except first: breakfast. Getting up at 5 am everyday, by the time I’m walking to my car in the parking garage at 7:15, my stomach is in revolt: “Food. Now. Like, right now. Or ten minutes ago. Feed meeeeee.” I know I’m not alone, because as the ladies’ locker room fills up after morning class, everyone has the same thought: after that workout, we are all freakin’ starving. Daaamn!

After attempting distraction by filling my stomach with coffee on my commute to work, I allow myself to start getting *a little* excited about my impending breakfast. As soon as my rear is parked at my desk, I wrench the lid off my mason jar filled with delicious goodness, dump it into a bowl and do not speak, think, or answer my phone until it is all in my belly. Mmmmm! Don’t judge me, but the moment that first bite is swallowed is the best part of my morning. For reals. Yum.

I’ve made overnight oats my (weekday) breakfast every day for the past several months (and never been tired of it, either!). I’ve gotten my sister, brother-in-law and three of my closest friends totally hooked on it. It’s always filling, it’s always delicious, and it’s always exciting. You can literally put anything on top. Anything. The best part? It takes less than five minutes to make it the night before. Seriously people, this is legit.

L's Overnight Oats

L’s Overnight Oats

L’s Overnight Oats

Let me tell you how I make it. All you’ll need is:

  • 16 oz mason jar/any container approximately that size
  • your favorite nut butter
  • rolled oats
  • milk of some variety (almond, soy, dairy – you name it)
  • cinnamon
  • toppings
Step 1: Take a big ol’scoop (~1 tbsp) of nut butter and put it in the bottom of your jar. I use Justin’s Maple Almond Butter because it is literally the best.
photo 4

Noms. Almond butter.

Step 2: Put 1/2 cup of rolled oats and (a little less than) 1/2 cup of almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk here) on top of your nut butter.
photo 2

Add oats and almond milk

Step 3: Dump some cinnamon on top (the amount is up to you, but I really like cinnamon). Stir the cinnamon in.
photo 3

Sprinkle on some cinnamon for flavor

Step 4: Time for toppings: throw some fruit in there. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are my current favorites.
photo 4
Add your fave berries
Step 5: Top it off with nuts, seeds, whatever. I use pumpkin seeds and flaked coconut for some crunchy texture in there.
photo 3

Top it all off with nuts, seeds, coconut flakes – whatever!

Step 6: You’re done! Put it in the fridge and go relax. In the morning you’ll have a delicious breakfast 🙂

I’m not kidding when I say it’s that easy. And it’s sooooooooo good for you! You’ve got a very nutritious and filling breakfast to start your day off. The possibilities are endless as well, so you can put whatever is in your pantry/fridge as toppings and make it your very own.

I hope you all enjoy it! And have a great day today. It’s hump day! Woohoo!

– L.