Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creative Pumpkin Seed Recipe

CHILD TO CHEF


What a great way to get your children involved in a fun, sloppy task that builds goal setting, prepping, cutting, cleaning, sorting, choosing, mixing, timing, tasting, sharing, discerning... and the list goes on, right?

This traditional, seasonal ritual is simply a recipe for you and your children to share quality time
pumpkin seeds
Soy & Cinnamon pumpkin seeds - Yum!
together. It's a creative way to empower them by building concentration, self-confidence and independence.



As a bonus, it can inspire them to a lifetime of enjoying the selection, preparation, and consumption of a variety of nutritious food products. Your children will never walk through a farmers market or grocery store the same way again (and that's a good thing - isn't it?).

Pumpkin Seed Recipe for Little Munchkins to Find Their Inner Julia 


Step 1 -  Lay down multiple layers of newspaper. This is a wonderful task for even the youngest child... to unfold the newspaper and lay single and double sheets of black and white print across the
Pumpkin seed baking
Wonderfully messy - Yes! 
work station (dining room table, floor, porch, etc.)

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 finger, so keep a close eye on this stage.

Step 3 -  With spoon (or fingers) scrape out all the seeds and gunk into a big bowl. The stringy, slimy inners of the pumpkin is oh-so fun to run your fingers through... don't let the children have all the fun... dig your hand through the pumpkin top and pull out the strands that the spoon missed! After the insides of the pumpkin have been raked, scrapped, scratched, and clawed to a nice slimy smooth wet texture, sans seeds and strands, the top of the pumpkin may be placed back onto the top of the pumpkin and an older child may safely move it out of harm's way.

Step 4 - Remove as much pulp as you easily can. It's good to have two bowls -  a seed bowl and a discard bowl. Don't worry about the little pieces of pumpkin slime that stay attached to the seeds. They will dry up and shrivel during the cooking process. I used to spend way too much time trying to completely clean the pulp. It's not necessary. In fact, I like the fiber in the toasty strands that come out of the oven.

teaching children to cook
I love the pulp - leave some on, come on!
Step 5 (optional) - 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 colander. Dry out bowl. I'm inclined to think this entire step could be
skipped... you decide.

Step 6 - Add olive oil to bowl and mix. Use about one teaspoon of oil for every cup of seeds if the seeds are wet. Double the oil if you dry the seeds, but not necessary.

Step 7 - You and your children may add some salt and any other spices that appeal. For example, sea salt is standard. I personally like cracked black and red pepper (cayenne) to give some true pumpkin patch lift! Thyme with lemon-pepper, garlic and onion powder are good combinations. Cinnamon and ginger is a great desert combination.


baking traditional pumpkin seeds
Is there too much goodness here...?
Key Point: I would use this stage as a real opportunity to open it up to your children's imagination. You may want to be extremely ambitious by suggesting that the children create a sampling of various flavored seeds. You can get them started with the above combinations... then ask them to come up with their own . A few crazy ones could be... barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon, lime, or orange juice, coriander and/or curry... you get the idea. If you do use a liquid, I would cut down on the oil. If they want to (and they will), mix up many combinations. Use a different bowl for the spice experiments, taking a portion from the master bowl of seeds and olive oil. Wipe out the mixing bowl between spice sets. I would separate the cookie  sheets with a small roll of aluminum foil attached across, acting like a mini-wall. The children can do this, also. You could divide the tray into four. with two baking sheets, you and yours could try eight different flavored seeds! Have the older children write down the combinations used for judging after the trophy seeds are ready to munch on. 

Step 8 - Place the flavored seeds and strands onto unsprayed baking sheet(s) . Bake at 300 degrees for about 40 - 60 minutes... stir/flip every 10 minutes. When they look golden brown and fill the air with
yummy aroma's, it's time to crunch for crispiness. Cooking time will vary depending on the moisture on the seeds, so just go by the crunch test.

Conclusion:

The important thing here is to let your children help in all steps (depending on age/developmental stage/interest/maturity). You may not realize it, but this is the beginning of your child(ren) growing up with a love of cooking. You now have an emerging chef, who after they get their own place in 15 years, will enjoy
Paprika Cayenne bliss!
entertaining you with creative meals from scratch... all because you let them make their own pumpkin seeds as a young child!


Share your combinations (even if they turned out a tad over the top!)

With love for spicy pepitas, Papa Green Bean