09/06/2013 09:59 am ET Updated Nov 06, 2013

The Truth About Pumpkin Seeds Will Make You Want Them Even More

Written by Adriana Velez on CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

Is it too early to start talking about pumpkins? What about pumpkin seeds? Because I kind of feel like I'm seeing pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, everywhere all of a sudden. When I was a kid we would roast them, salt them, and then crack each one out of its shell to get to that nutty center. I still remember that smell. But now it's easy to get them already toasted and shelled -- and would't you know it? Turns out pumpkin seeds also happen to be one of those superfoods we should be eating more. Delicious and nutritious? Let's find out what's really going on with pumpkin seeds!

First of all, pumpkin seeds are rich in essential minerals like zinc and magnesium. These minerals help build muscle and ward off disease, among many other things. The seeds contain mono-unsaturated fatty acids that helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and increases good HDL cholesterol in the blood. They're loaded with Vitamin E and B-complex vitamins. They have compounds known as cucurbitacins which can potentially help ward off cancer. They may be good for prostrates for men and may help curb hot flashes for women. There's also some reasearch showing pepitas can help with arthritis.

So... what can you do with them? What can't you do? Pumpkin seeds are delicious sprinkled over everything from salads to soups to muffins, on casseroles or quinoa. They're good on steamed vegetables or over your breakfast waffles.

Here's the basics on how to toast pumpkin seeds. Like I said, it's not too hard to find them shelled. But it's not that hard to roast them yourself, either. And that husk is edible.

Go sweet and spicy with candied pepitas or pumpkin seed brittle.

You don't have to use pine nuts for pesto -- why not try pumpkin seed pesto.

There's a classic Mexican mole sauce made with pepitas: Pumpkin and ancho chile sauce or try green pumpkin seed mole.

Naturally Martha Stewart has a bunch of pumpkin seed recipes, like this pumpkin seed trail mix.

What do you do with pumpkin seeds?

More from The Stir:

7 Crazy Pumpkin-Flavored Foods That Take the Trend Too Far

4 Pumpkin Desserts for When You're Totally Sick of Pie

15 New Ways to Spice Up Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

6 Fun Fall Treats to Bake With Your Kids

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