Of all the things to look forward to in the Fall/Autumn months, winter squash is high on my list. Butternut, spaghetti squash, pumpkin…the list goes on. One of the best (in my opinion) and most commonly found in grocery stores, farmer’s markets, etc. is acorn squash.
Also called pepper squash or Des Moines squash, acorn squash is notable for its predominately green and yellow-accented outer skin, bright yellow-orange flesh, and distinctively floral-like appearance when cut in half width-wise. High in vitamin C, potassium and manganese, acorn squash has a very low fructose content. I have a recipe for acorn squash soup in the works, so I’ll dish more on the benefits of the squash itself in that post. To keep this short and sweet, and move along to the recipe, let’s focus on the seeds.
My favorite part of the acorn squash would have to be the seeds. It pains me, when I witness the preparation of any squash with edible seeds, to see the seeds tossed aside into the trash. I don’t blame anyone for doing this; it does look daunting to sort through the stringy clumps of squash innards to remove the seeds. More so, from experience I’ve learned that many people don’t think of squash seeds as usable, or edible even. This common misconception probably results from the general lack of roasted squash seeds on grocery store shelves. Roasted pumpkin seeds are commonplace–“David” brand pumpkin seeds and/or toasted pepitas can be found almost everywhere where sunflower seeds are sold, even at most gas station mini marts.
I prefer roasted acorn squash seeds over pumpkin seeds for a number of reasons, first and foremost being that the entire seed is edible (shell and all!). When roasted in a small amount of coconut oil and sprinkled with salt, the seeds caramelize and develop a rich, buttery flavor. Per ounce, acorn squash seeds contain 126 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated, 3g polyunsaturated, 2g monounsaturated and 0g trans fat), 5mg sodium, 261mg potassium, 0g sugar, 5g protein, and 5g fiber. The cholesterol content is of course zero, since acorn squash is a plant. The 1 Tbsp coconut oil adds an insignificant amount of fat to the recipe (unless of course you make a meal out of it and eat them all in one sitting—a great idea, actually, and even better when paired with arugula or baby kale). *When seeds are your main protein source, eating a cup in one sitting or split between two meals is healthy and not “over-indulgent”. Seeds are my predominant source of protein, and most of my meals consist of greens with seeds, or steamed vegetables with a seed-based “cream” sauce. A tablespoon of coconut oil is not over-indulgent either, and also recommended as a daily nutritional supplement.
Enjoy these roasted acorn squash seeds as a snack, on a salad, or any way you like:
- 2 whole acorn squash
- 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- 1 pinch ground Himalayan pink salt
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees ℉ (150 degrees ℃). Cut acorn squash in half width-wise to achieve a pretty floral design around the edges. Reserve squash halves, to bake with the seeds or save for later. Separate seeds from the flesh of the squash. Start by squeezing the big pieces of flesh right at the seam where the seeds attach. The larger chunks should separate easily. Try to separate stringy bits of squash flesh from the seeds, but it doesn't have to be precise.
- Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted coconut oil. When coated in coconut oil, spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet (some overlap is fine, and nearly unavoidable). Sprinkle with Himalayan pink salt.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.