Roasted pumpkin seeds make a good snack

The only time of year when pumpkins are really appreciated is at Halloween, when people carve jack-o-lanterns for windows or front porches. Even so, the seeds are often thrown away, as though they were as useless as Cinderella's coach after midnight. That's a shame, though, because there are many delectable ways to use pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkins are full of seeds, as anyone who has ever carved one knows. It takes a while to scrape them out, and most people toss everything away. The strings belong in the garbage can or compost heap, but don't toss the seeds.

Children like them, especially if they can help in the roasting. Plain unflavored roasted pumpkin seeds can be substituted for nuts in recipes such as poultry stuffing or quick breads. But they are even better as a snack.

To roast the seeds, first put them in a colander and rinse well with cold water. Using bare fingers, separate the seeds from the strings, discarding the strings. Rinse several times.

Spread out one layer of wet seeds in a shallow baking pan. Use several pans if necessary. Seeds piled into more than one layer won't roast evenly.

Bake at 375 degrees F. until the seeds are crisp, puffy, and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Stir at least once so they don't stick. After roasting they are ready to eat. Store immediately in airtight jars.

Before baking you may want to sprinkle the seeds lightly with savory or sweet seasonings, such as salt, garlic powder, cinnamon-and-sugar mixture, curry powder, or paprika.

Another use for pumpkin seeds is as birdseed. There's no need to roast them, but they should be rinsed off and placed between newspapers for a while to dry.

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