By Integrative Nutrition
Pumpkin seeds (sometimes called pepitas) don’t get quite as much attention as the squash itself during this pumpkin-saturated season, but they should. They’re crunchy with a mild flavor that’s both nutty and grassy. Better yet, they’re incredibly healthy, offering protein and a generous dose of magnesium – as well as a host of other nutrients and minerals, including manganese, copper, and zinc.
They’re also amazingly anti-inflammatory, which makes them great for athletes or people combating arthritis or other inflammation-induced health issues.
If you eat a mostly or entirely plant-based diet, they’re an important food to eat regularly because they’re one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s. They can be eaten raw or toasted, and they’re good with both savory and sweet flavor profiles. The nutrients are most available when pumpkin seeds are consumed raw, as in this recipe.
If you need a portable, crave-worthy snack that will help you achieve your health goals, these trail mix bites are ideal. They come together quickly in the food processor – just throw everything in and pulse until combined. If you don’t have a food processor, a high-powered blender may work as well.
They’re made with readily-available, shelf-stable ingredients like oats, peanut butter, coconut oil, dates, brown rice syrup, and chocolate chips. Keep these ingredients on hand and you’ll always have what you need to make a quick, healthy snack. The bites provide the perfect balance of carbs, fat, and protein in a sweet and scrumptious package. They’re also vegan and gluten-free!
Toss a couple in a packed school lunch for a small but satisfying dessert – the flavors are familiar enough for most kids. Eat a few after your workout to promote improved recovery. They even make a great breakfast when you’re in a hurry, especially if crumbled over a bowl of Greek yogurt.
If you don’t have enough time to scoop them individually, you can press the mixture into a greased 8” square pan and refrigerate until firm, then cut into squares. The squares will be a bit crumblier than the bites, but equally as good.
Thinking seasonally now that the weather is getting colder? Plan ahead to avoid the annual Halloween candy binge by prepping a batch of these to munch on during the holiday. They taste like a treat but won’t spike your blood sugar and promote cravings as readily as typical candies. Be extra nice and make a plate to share with your coworkers or friends at a fall get-together! They’ll go fast.
Pumpkin Seed Trail Mix Bites
Ingredients (Makes three dozen bites)
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1 ½ cups quick oats
1 cup natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
10 pitted dried dates
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
¼ cup chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil, melted
- Pulse pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips in food processor until coarsely chopped. Pour into a bowl and add oats.
- Pulse peanut butter, dates, brown rice syrup, chia seeds, cinnamon, and coconut oil in food processor until they form a thick, creamy paste (scrape the sides down as necessary). Add pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, and oats and blend again until ingredients form a cohesive mixture that sticks to itself when pressed into a ball. If it seems too crumbly to scoop, add more coconut oil 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Scoop bites onto a foil or parchment-lined cookie sheet using a 1-tablespoon size cookie scoop. It helps to “pack” the mixture into the cookie scoop a bit with your fingertips.
- Refrigerate bites until set, approximately 1 hour. Store in an airtight container in a refrigerator for up to two weeks, or freeze for up to two months (thaw slightly before consuming).
- Use white chocolate or butterscotch chips for more of a “fall” flavor. You can also chop up your favorite chocolate bar into chunks instead of using chips.
- Use certified gluten-free oats for a guaranteed gluten-free recipe.
- If you have a peanut allergy, sunflower, cashew, or almond butter would work instead of peanut butter.
- Buy holiday-themed mini muffin papers and serve the bites in them on a platter for a party-worthy presentation.
Integrative Nutrition is the world’s largest nutrition school and Health Coach Training Program. Through our innovative, one-year online course, students learn the principles of health coaching, business skills, and over 100 different dietary theories with lectures by the world’s leading experts.