All About Seeds
Seeds are eaten all around the world, often in forms that we don’t recognize – beans, nuts and grains are actually seeds. All seeds are good sources of minerals, vitamins, fiber and healthy fats, and can be used many different ways.
Ground sunflower seeds make a nutty and rich butter that’s reminiscent of peanut butter. Substitute sunflower seeds for nuts in recipes such pesto, replacing pine nuts. Sunflower seeds also provide a great source of vitamin E.
Both toasted and raw poppy seeds are delicious stirred into dressings, especially buttermilk-based dressings, and tossed with salads. Try a simple pasta dish by tossing whole-wheat pasta with plain Greek yogurt and poppy seeds. Poppy seeds are very high in calcium and polyunsaturated fat, so be sure to store them in the refrigerator to protect their delicate oils.
These seeds can be blended into smoothies, stirred into oatmeal, and sprinkled into baked goods. Flaxseed oil adds a fresh, grassy element to cold salads and combines well with extra-virgin olive oil in dressings. Because of the high omega-3 content, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil should always be stored in the refrigerator.
Tahini is a thick paste made of ground sesame seeds and is the base of both savory (hummus) and sweet (halva) Middle Eastern dishes. Toasted sesame oil is drizzled onto many Asian dishes as a final touch. Try including 1⁄4 cup of toasted sesame seeds in your next batch of pancakes. Like poppy seeds, sesame seeds are also a good source of calcium.
In Mexican cuisine, roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (either with or without their white hulls) are called pepitas and are often included in salads, dips and soups. To make your own pepitas, scoop the seeds out of a fresh pumpkin and let them soak in cool water overnight. The next day, pat them dry and bake at 350° for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. For an extra kick, toss them with extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and chili powder before baking.
Chia comes from a desert plant in Mexico called Salvia hispanica and is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, antioxidants and calcium. Chia seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and can be added to a variety of foods and drinks. Sprinkle them in oatmeal, smoothies, cereal, salad, rice or baked goods for an added boost of nutrition and flavor.
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of essential fatty acids and contain all nine essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source. Plus, the protein in hemp seeds is very easy to digest. Add them to a smoothie, salad or cereal, incorporate into baked goods, dry roast with spices, or sprinkle on a pasta dish for a nice texture without too much crunch.