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  Mayan and Aztec Food & Medicine: Pumpkin Seeds and Tomatillos
by Jim Meuninck


Warrior Plants:  Native Americans consider plants that grow straight up toward the sun as warrior plants: garlic, peppers, nuts, corn, onions, sage...They take their energy from the sun.  They are warming and indicated as food protection against acute infections.  Female plants like pumpkin rest upon the ground and are cooling, taking their energy from the "Mother Earth".  They are eaten to replace water and electrolytes.
 From: Native American Medicine video


This is the best time of year to buy pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita pepo). Buy unsalted green seeds or whole in the shell seeds. Keep them in your freezer. Green pumpkin seeds are hulled and a one pound bag will last the uninitiated about one millennium. After roasting in the oven, pumpkin seeds are great in pumpkin pie, providing an alarming crunch to the unsuspecting guest who has never had nuts in pumpkin pie. Also, they are a nutritious fit in waffle and pancake mixes, bread, muffins. Sprinkle them over salads. Swirl them into chicken stir fry. With a little practice you can empty that one pound bag before the end of this millennium.

Mayan Food, Aztec Medicine

Whatís all the fuss about pumpkin seeds? Well, if your significant other still has his prostate, pumpkin seeds may help him keep it. There is empirical evidence that eating pumpkin seeds my alleviate prostate complaints including urinating difficulties associated with prostate hyperplasia. Cucurbitin an amino acid in pumpkin seeds kills worms and vermin. Pumpkin seeds are use in Mexico and Central America as a folk remedy to kill tapeworms and other intestinal parasites, perhaps effective in the early stages of schistomiasis and prophylactic to travelerís diarrhea. The active chemistry that may effect the prostate are zinc, essential fatty acids and phytosterols. Phytosterols in pumpkin seed include: sitosterol, stigmasterol, spinasterol, clerosterol to name a few. Pharmacologically plant sterols can be converted to steroid compounds similar to our own endogenous steroids (hormones). Does our body use plant sterols like steroids? Preliminary evidence suggests it does. Mexican "wise women", traditional fold medicine practitioners, take three or four tablespoons of the seeds per day to treat worm infestations, prostate complaints, irritable bladders. As mentioned, seeds are good sources of essential fatty acids: linoleic acid, alpha linolenic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, arachidic acid and stearic acid. Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are life supporting, we canít live without them. They come from plants and pumpkin seeds like flax seeds are a good source. For folks that get cold sores pumpkin seeds contain lysine. Lysine may help cut the frequency of cold sore infections. Pumpkin seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals, especially zinc.

Right now, pumpkin seeds are fresh, available and abundant. Eat them because they are nutritious and taste good. If there is a medicinal spin off that keeps you vibrant and healthy, well then, Iím not surprised. We eat plants or we eat animals that eat plants. Therefore our chemistry is made up from plant chemistry. We are plants with wheels.

Pumpkin Seed and Tomatillo Recipe

Hereís a pumpkin seed/tomatillo recipe:

Tomatillos are wild solanaceous plants related to tomatoes and eggplant. They are available in the produce section of markets frequented by Hispanic Americans. Tomatillos self seed in our garden year after year. Green mole made with tomatillas is versatile, combine pumpkin seeds and it is unique.

-6 tomatillos* (you may substitute green tomatoes)

-two or three jalapeno peppers

-three T green shelled pumpkin seeds

-Ĺ t cumin

-1 clove garlic

-salt and pepper

-1/4 lemon (juice)

Boil tomatillos and peppers in water until they are soft, about 7 to 10 minutes. Strain.

While peppers and tomatillos cool. Grind pumpkin and cumin seeds. Dice garlic clove. Add ground seeds, garlic, peppers and tomatillos to a blender. Puree. Stir in lemon juice to taste. Salt and pepper. Use this sauce on everything. I mean it. Over chicken, in soups, tacos, enchiladas...Jill (my wife) and I make it by the quart.

Authorís note: Tripletreat pumpkins can be grown at home and produce shell-less seeds.

For more superfoods, wild foods and herbal medicines from our Native American brothers and sisters see:   
Native American Medicine
Little Medicine; The Wisdom to Avoid Big medicine
Edible Wild Plants, 100 Useful Wild Herbs
Trees, Shrubs, Nuts & Berries