. As the spring season is in full bloom, we can finally enjoy the sights, the smells and flavors of the first delicate strawberries, leafy greens and tender sprouts. After the long months of winter, everything is growing again from the ground. It’s unbelievable that all that starts with tiny packages containing every single element to fulfill the needs of the future plant (of course, with the exception of sun, oxygen and soil): the seeds.
Seeds are a form of life, compacted. And not only for the future plant, but also for us who eat them.
In general, seeds are great sources of fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamin E, and minerals, therefore they are a great addition to any recipe, plus they provide great texture and flavor. They can be ground, toasted, roasted or eaten raw and used in sweet and savory recipes. They are easily portable and incredibly versatile, so having some in the freezer (the low temperature helps prevent rancidity, so they last for much longer) at all time can make it easier to eat healthier and tastier.
Seeds are great sprinkled onto salads, soups, stir-fries, breads or dessert, as well as blended into sauces or breading mixes for chicken or fish.
The following are some of my personal favorites, but feel free to experiment also with flax, amaranth, poppy, caraway, etc:
CHIA: Yes, as the ones yielding into the chia pet plant, these Native American seeds are loaded with omega-3s, calcium, antioxidants, and fiber. Studies suggest that chia seeds can help stabilize blood sugar, lower risk for cardiovascular disease, and facilitate weight loss. Chia seeds can hold 9-12 times their weight in liquid, producing a gel. This “hydrophilic” quality, offers an endless amount of culinary possibilities. Puddings, spreads and sauces can be made without any heat involved.
HEMP: These delicious protein-loaded seeds do come from the same plant as marijuana, although they don’t have the same psychoactive effect, and they are safe to eat for people of all ages. Their protein contains all the essential amino acids, which makes it a high-quality vegetarian protein. Hemp seeds are perfectly balanced with a three to one omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio, they have an extremely high fiber content, and contain some phytochemicals (chemical compounds derived from plants) that may help prevent chronic disease.
PEPITAS (PUMPKIN SEEDS): High in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, energy-producing magnesium, immunity-enhancing zinc and phytochemicals such as carotenoids and phytosterols, pumpkin seeds are a great addition to a healthy diet to help our bodies prevent and fight disease such as arthritis, osteoporosis and some types of cancer. Phytosterols are also helpful in stabilizing cholesterol levels.
SESAME: These tiny seeds are very high in calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium, phosphorus, and vitamin B-1. They also have some cholesterol-fighting fibers known as lignans. Sesame seeds are delicious raw or toasted, as well as ground into a paste: tahini. If you find unhulled seeds, definitely go for those, as the outer bran is still intact, and therefore, all the nutrients are still present in the seed.
SUNFLOWER: Rich in vitamin E, selenium, folate and antioxidants, these seeds of the gorgeous bright yellow flower, can help prevent heart disease, cancer and other illnesses caused by cellular degeneration. They are delicious toasted and eaten in trail mixes and salads or they can be ground in the food processor with a bit of honey, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt to make sunflower seed butter, a great substitute for peanut or other nut butters. Very handy when nut allergies are an issue!