Chicken cooked with a coating of pumpkin seed crust. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

A few friends have opened my freezer and inquired about the Mason jars of messiness that I have stacked on a shelf. When I tell them the concoction inside is my little helper, they peer at me strangely.

In truth, it is a lightly curried pumpkin seed mixture that makes the most delicious crust for almost any piece of fish, chicken or meat. Were you expecting something more exciting? This recipe has rescued me countless times when I don’t know what to make for dinner.

For the swanky dinner party, it wows on a piece of tuna or swordfish. For a weeknight dinner, it transforms the traditional crusted chicken into something more notable. It flavors any salad and adds crunch and spice to plain lentils, rice or quinoa. My 2-year-old and I enjoy eating it with a spoon, although we do endeavor to restrain ourselves.

Not only does this little helper add just the right amount of special to dinner, it also ups the nutritional ante. Pumpkin seeds contain:

●Zinc, which aids the immune system.

●Protein, including the important amino acid tryptophan.

●Magnesium, which is good for the heart.

●Manganese, which supports the nervous system.

The curry powder also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Toss some together, pour into an airtight container and pop it in the freezer. It will be there for you when you need it.

Casey Seidenberg’s pumpkin seed crust

Seidenberg is co-founder of Nourish Schools, a D.C.-based nutrition education company.