I love the Fall. Everything about it is so fun and festive. North Carolina is the best place to be in the Fall because the leaves are changing and the weather is perfect… not too cold and not too hot. It’s just a great time for me and my family. Since my kids are still young we do a lot of corny Fall activities together. One of their favorite things to do is go to the pumpkin patch at a local farm. We pick our own pumpkins, take a hay ride, drink warm apple cider (even though it’s usually over 70 degrees), pet some farm animals, and we might even milk a cow! It’s a lot of fun and I’m glad my boys are still young enough to enjoy this special time with Daddy and Mommy.
Once we get our pumpkins home it’s my job to carve them. My kids just sit back and watch their mom hack up 2 or 3 pumpkins for our jack-o-lantern display. The pumpkins ALWAYS look crazy because I’m terrible at carving pumpkins. The eyes are never even, the nose is never centered and to this day I just can’t get that zig-zaggy look to the mouth that jack-o-lanterns are supposed to have. But I proudly display my Picasso-esque creations for all the neighborhood to see and admire.
After all that “carving” I like to save the seeds and roast them up. It has taken a few years for my kids to warm up to the idea of eating pumpkin seeds. They couldn’t get past the seeds being in all the pumpkin guts. Since they’re little kids and all kids like sugar, I decided this year I would entice them with pumpkin seeds covered in sugar. YUM! (Since pumpkin seeds are high in fiber and protein and full of minerals this cancels out the added sugar.) My eight-year-old was brave and gave the pumpkins seeds a try. He really liked them, but my six-year-old was not convinced and passed on this sugary (and healthy). Oh well, better luck next year.
Cinnamon-Sugar Pumpkin Seeds
1 medium-sized pie or sugar pumpkin
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Cut the pumpkin open and scape out the pulp and seeds. (I use sugar or pie pumpkins because the seed shells are not as tough and easier to chew.) Separate the seeds from the stringy pulp (or pumpkin guts as my kids say) and rinse the seeds with cold water in a large fine-mesh seive.
Spread 1 tablespoon of the oil in a baking sheet, then spread the seeds out in a single layer on the pan. Bake the seeds for 30 minutes to dry them out. Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne (if using) and salt in a small bowl to combine. Remove the seeds from the oven and toss with 1 teaspoon of oil and the cinnamon sugar mixture. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the seeds are crisp and golden brown, about 20 additional minutes.
Cool the seeds completely before eating. The pumpkin seeds can be eaten with the sheels on. (It’s easier and less work that way.)