Let’s be honest, my family tires of salads and I find myself frequently looking for ways to spice them up a bit.  I was inspired to make our own “croutons” about a year or two ago after purchasing the Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook and decided to put our own spin on her recipe.  One of my additions to the recipe was to include one of our favorite herbs, milk thistle. See this post as to why we love milk thistle. Milk thistle is great and is known to help calm microglial activation, which produces inflammatory cytokines and increases glutamate signaling in response to immune activation and/or infection. If you thought that wasn’t good enough, pumpkin seeds are very high in magnesium, which many of us are deficient in, especially when you’re struggling with glutamate sensitivity! Magnesium protects against glutamate damage, sits on the NMDA glutamate receptor, calms cells, helps to raise GABA, improves motility and can help to resolve many common health issues. Saying it is hugely important for our children, is an understatement.  They are also hugely anti-parasitic, high in antioxidants, and zinc which greatly helps when struggling with picky eating.


1 c.          Raw Pumpkin Seeds (unsalted or fresh)

2 tsp.      Chili Powder (we prefer the Spicely brand)

1-2 tsp.      Ground Milk Thistle (we love Mountain Rose Herbs but this amazon find should work) (optional)

2 tsp.      Maple Syrup

3/4 tsp.       Himalayan or Sea Salt

Sprinkle       Cayenne Pepper (optional)



Preheat oven to 275 F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a small bowl, all ingredients and toss until well combined.  Sprinkle pumpkin seed mixture onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet and allow for some overlap of seeds so that they can form little clusters.  Bake for roughly 20-30 minutes, until crunchy and slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to completely cool before removing from the baking sheet. The perfect crunchy salad topper!


Feel free to leave the milk thistle out! As with everything else, some may not tolerate milk thistle as well as others and it is best to be mindful of any reactions. But if you’re looking to incorporating some more herbs, here is one small way you can add them in.