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Arugula Salad with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

When I was little I used to love everything about Halloween, especially the ritual of carving pumpkins. I took the process very seriously and would draw these elaborate designs only to hear my father, the designated carver, sigh with dread. I loved seeing my creation take shape, evolving from the spark of an idea into a glowing Halloween masterpiece. The results would elicit reactions of sheer delight! We had to cherish those big orange faces while we could, because they would soon begin to decay and our once treasured works of art would be thrown unceremoniously into the garbage. And that would be that.

My imagination continues to fuel my excitement for the same rituals I enjoyed as a child, only now I fail to execute on the grounds that I’m too “busy”. I concoct these grandiose ideas laced with the best intentions and then I decide it’s not worth the effort, which is a damn shame. The season comes and goes without me having participated in it at all; I just watch it pass me by. When my “busyness” seduces me into abandoning my creativity, I end up feeling like my Self is trapped inside a bunch of meaningless adult mumbo-jumbo that I’ve convinced myself is all very important. Stuck in my mind, I’m unable to engage in my life; it’s all trick and no treat. Well, no more.

“The path to realization is of no use unless one travels it.” – Chip Hartranft, The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Roasting Spices

This year I bought four pumpkins (I’m making up for lost time)! I tried to replicate the image in my mind of our neighbors’ home where we’d go trick-or-treating as kids. Their driveway was always lined with pumpkins, maybe twenty or more. (Do you ever feel like what you remember from childhood is always bigger than what actually happened? It’s possible there were only five pumpkins on my neighbors’ lawn, but we’ll never know. Patanjali tells us that smurti, or memory, is an unreliable source of knowledge. I concur.) So now I have four pumpkins sitting on the bench in our front courtyard and they look spectacular! I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed carving them; folks walked by and seemed genuinely tickled to see my project take shape. “No one does that anymore,” someone said. After I finished my masterpieces, I spent an hour sifting through the pumpkin guts with my hands, picking out the seeds. It was the best japa (repetitive) meditation I’ve done in years.

To roast the pumpkin seeds, you’ll first need to give them a good rinse. Lay them out to dry – if they’re wet they won’t brown in the oven. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil (about a teaspoon) over the seeds, just enough to give the salt something to stick to. Sprinkle with salt and toss with your fingers. Roast at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on them. I happily tested them throughout the cooking process to make sure they had the crunch I wanted. You can also sprinkle them with cayenne pepper to give them a little kick!

Even though I had given myself permission to take the day off, part of me was still running amok through all the things I should’ve been trying to get done. Fortunately, I was having too much fun to feel guilty. Totally engrossed in my pumpkin practice, I felt a familiar wave of creativity wash over me. This yummy salad recipe popped into my head all by itself.


Arugula Salad with Curry Roasted Vegetables, Goat Cheese, and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I used acorn squash and cauliflower, but any Fall vegetable would work beautifully. Toss the veggies in the following marinade and roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until soft.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon of dried ginger spice
1 teaspoon salt

Ginger Shallot Vinaigrette

1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried ginger spice
equal parts lemon and olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the roasted vegetables, still warm, with the goat cheese and arugula. Toss with the ginger shallot vinaigrette and top with the roasted pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.

This year, I feel very much rooted in the Fall, my favorite season, which is a stark difference from years past when it felt like I was running after it, trying to catch up. It’s so important that we participate in moments as they come, because they will ultimately go. On that note, I’m off to light my pumpkins. Soon people will be walking home from work and will hopefully catch a glimpse of my Halloween practice as it glows in the dark. Participating in tradition and ritual serves to remind us that there is no goal other than to treasure the moment—to revel in the impermanence of the finished product. This practice connects us to ourselves in a very real, very organic way. I hope you all have a very Happy Halloween and get to celebrate in all the ways that light you up inside.

Join the Discussion

5 Responses to Arugula Salad with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  1. Every Halloween we always recall getting the pumpkins carved and lit before our 2 “scheduled” Trick or Treaters came over. I almost forgot that the pumpkins were on the little wall lining our driveway.It’s a good memory!

  2. Thank you so much for your lovely article “The Heart of Teaching”. So many things resonated in me, a yoga teacher who is almost 60 years old and strong but not naturally bendy. What could be seen as a liability is actually an asset as I am a living example of a continued practice of self acceptance. I know the focus was not on the physical, but I wanted to ask you a “physical” question…I know how to cue students to engage the legs, but am not sure I understand what you mean by “compacting their outer hips” in forward folds. I would really appreciate some detail so that I might keep my students (and myself) as safe as possible.


    PS- you have a really beautiful blog!

    • Hi Sally,

      I’m so glad that this piece resonated with you, and thank you for your kind words about my blog! Compacting the outer hips refers to a co-contraction of gluteus medius. When gluteus medius engages, it creates stability in a flexible body by slightly posteriorly tilting the pelvis, which prevents an over-stretching of the hamstring attachments and also makes space at the front of the hip joint (where compression often occurs in flexible bodies because of the tendency to be in an excessive anterior tilt in forward bends). Firming the outer hips in creates suspension in the hip joints, such that the pelvis is supported muscularly, rather than sinking down into the femur heads. It’s a must in all forward bends!

      I hope this helps to clarify!


    • It’s just dried, ground ginger (rather than fresh ginger). I’ve made this for the past few weeks straight – I’m addicted! You will love it.

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  • Thanks for welcoming me into your h(om)e.

    May this meditation help you find the peace within. I look forward to sharing more inspiration and goodies with you in my regular newsletters.

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