Talk about decadent! This is a special dessert that offers a substantial anti-cancerous, nutrient punch along with every melt-in-your-mouth bite. Of course, dark chocolate itself, should be relished in small doses and eat bite should ideally be consumed with pure pleasure ever so slowly, as each small chocolaty bite collides with your tongue as time stands still.
We all think of pumpkins this time of year and the delicious pumpkin-filled dishes, which accompany the fall season (I’m talking three bean pumpkin chili and date-sweetened pumpkin pie!), but I don’t think pumpkin seeds get enough attention. They are so impressively good for us!
As with all processed candies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are atrocious for our health, so why not prepare a superior homemade version that even looks prettier?! However, instead of using peanut butter, let’s get a bit bold and definitely adventurous and use pumpkin seed butter! And look at that color. It turns out that rich and creamy pumpkin seed butter is actually a green hue. This is nothing but a win-win because the cups can be served beautifully, as the unique green contrasts so well with the rich dark color of the chocolate. This is a perfect treat to prepare for guests at upcoming holiday gatherings (and who am I kidding, you can make a bunch for yourself and store them for ages in the freezer) and there are many notable nutritional benefits to consuming pumpkin seeds over peanuts. Read about these benefits below!
The taste of pumpkin seed butter is nutty, creamy and wonderful. I hope you love it!
Surprising & Totally Fascinating Pumpkin Seed Butter Nutrition Fact
Pumpkin seeds, just like all seeds, contain a potent quantity of lignans. You might be wondering, “What the heck are lignans?” and it’s a good question to know the answer to because lignans are impressively nutritious and anti-cancerous. They are a type of phytoestrogen (phyto- is a prefix that simply means plant) that have been found to lower body mass index, reduce blood glucose levels, and even protect us against heart disease and cancer. It’s absolutely fascinating (at least in my opinion ~ I hope you think so too!) how lignans protect us against breast cancer and other hormone-related cancers. Their chemical structure is remarkably similar to estrogen (hence the name phytoestrogen) and because of this similarity in structure, when we ingest them, they bind to estrogen receptors. These suckers are so cool because they can block estrogen’s natural effects or have milder estrogen-like effects on the body. A human biochemistry novice might assume this would be a bad thing. After all, there is evidence that estrogen exposure is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. But nope, this is a marvelous property for a food to possess. Lignans weaken the negative effects of estrogen, and there is conclusive evidence from thousands of studies that phytoestrogens are on our longevity, pro-thrivin’ side. The lignans found in pumpkin seeds have also been found to have anti-microbial and anti-viral properties. Woohoo!
Another underreported benefit of pumpkin seeds is their high tryptophan to total protein ratio, which has been shown to boost our moods! Check out Dr. Michael Greger’s video on this subject ~> http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-best-way-to-boost-serotonin/
Pumpkin seeds also contain a huge amount of manganese, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, zinc, protein, iron, vitamins A, E and C.
To Prepare Pumpkin Seed Butter
Pumpkin seed butter is thankfully very easy to prepare. All you need to do is blend whole raw pumpkin seeds in a high-powered blender or food processor and continue processing until desired consistency is achieved. You may need to occasionally scrape the sides with a spatula, but soon you will have yummy pumpkin seed butter! You can add optional cinnamon to the butter and any leftover butter can be stored in the refrigerator, where it will harden slightly but stay fresh for ages.
Pumpkin seed butter can also be purchased online and in most health food stores. You can even purchase sprouted pumpkin seed butter!
Ingredients (makes 6-8 cups):
1 cup grain sweetened dark chocolate chips (carob chips would be awesome too)
1/3 cup unsalted pumpkin seed butter (either prepared yourself or purchased)
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons freeze dried raspberries (fresh also works)
2 tablespoons whole raw pumpkin seeds or coconut flakes (optional)
Place chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl or in the top of a double boiler and heat until melted and smooth (about 30 seconds, stir and then another 45 seconds in the microwave). In a separate small bowl, combine pumpkin seed butter and nutritional yeast. Spoon chocolate about 1/3 of the way in a muffin paper or silicone cup (about two spoonfuls). Spoon a small bit of the pumpkin seed butter mixture on top of the chocolate. Then top each cup with an additional spoonful of chocolate so pumpkin seed butter is covered. Sprinkle each cup with a few raspberries and a few whole pumpkin seeds. Place cups in the refrigerator or freezer to set up. They are ready to eat in a few hours. Enjoy!
Lastly, here is a pumpkin seed fun fact: While pumpkin seed are indigenous to North, South and Central America, today China produces more pumpkins and pumpkin seeds than any other country! India, Russia, the Ukraine, Mexico and the U.S. are also the world’s major pumpkin producers. Here in the United States, pumpkins are grown in every single state.
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McCann SE, Thompson LU, Nie J, et al: Dietary lignan intakes in relation to survival among women with breast cancer: the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer (WEB) Study. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2010;122:229-235.
Adlercreutz H, Hockerstedt K, Bannwart C, et al: Effect of dietary components, including lignans and phytoestrogens, on enterohepatic circulation and liver metabolism of estrogens and on sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). J Steroid Biochem 1987;27:1135-1144.
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Zaineddin AK, Buck K, Vrieling A et al. The association between dietary lignans, phytoestrogen-rich foods, and fiber intake and postmenopausal breast cancer risk: a German case-control study. Nutr Cancer. 2012;64(5):652-65. Epub 2012 May 16.