Seeds are the ultimate life force! Have you ever watched a seed pop up through the soil with such incredible gentle strength as it makes it’s way into this world? As it sprouts up a bit more into a seedling, converting sunlight into energy (the ultimate energy transfer!) until finally growing into a robust plant that provides life in the form of food or pollen, to another species?? Seeds are indeed incredible!
They are also highly nutritious and often loaded with vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fats.
Let’s take a quick look at some of my favorite seeds and easy ways to get them in for fuel as well…..
Chia seeds have been around for a super long time (not the ‘new’ kid on the block!) and have been eaten throughout Mesoamerica for thousands of years. The Aztec and Mayan civilizations were big fans of the seed.
Extremely tiny yet extremely potent…a single serving of chia seeds provides a hefty dose of antioxidants, protein, fiber, zinc, iron, and omega-3 fat. Chia’s high dose of omega-3s can help reduce inflammation, treat or prevent anxiety and depression, and even slow the aging process. You don’t have to grind chia to reap the maximum benefits, and the seeds don’t spoil quickly, making them much more convenient than flaxseed. (don’t think you can get all your omega 3’s from a few tablespoons a day of these seeds though, you should be getting your omega 3’s from a variety of sources)
My favorite to enjoy them is to mix 1 tablespoon in 4-8oz of almond milk and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. (In fact that is what I just did and hence the reason for this post) The seeds form a gel when mixed with liquid, increasing their availability a bit. We also add them to our smoothies and sprinkle chia seeds on oatmeal, yogurt, salads… really anything! They also always go in our energy bars or balls.
Chia Fresca!! (a great recipe adopted from an interview with a chia grower on naturalnews.com)
- Juice or squeeze the juice out of 3 fresh limes
- Add the lime juice to a blender with 3 tablespoons of chia seeds
- Fill the blender to 2-3 inches below the top with water
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of fresh habanero or cayenne pepper or 1/4 teaspoon of dried cayenne powder
- Blend on high for at least 30 seconds
- Pour into a glass container and store in the fridge for an eye-popping, power packed, refreshing drink!
Chocolate Chia Tea:
- Make some green tea
- Add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- Add 1 tablespoon of cacoa powder and mix well
- Let sit for 5 minutes
- Stir well and enjoy!
Raw, shelled pumpkin seeds are dark green and absolulely delicious. Also known as pepitas (from the Spanish pepita de calabaza, or “little seed of squash”), they are largely used in traditional Mexican cuisine and make great snacks!
Pumpkin seeds are high in a form of antioxidant known as carotenoids, a special plant derivative that enhances immune activity and disease fighting capacities. These seeds are also a good source of magnesium and manganese, zinc and copper and contain small amounts of protein, B1, B2 and B3.(Not really a significant source of omega-3’s)
Pumpkin seeds are best purchased raw, unroasted and unsalted. Roasting them increases their nuttiness but depending on the level of heat used in the roasting process, it can oxidize (bad!) the good fats. Since we don’t know how commercial suppliers roast them, I suggest buying them raw and eating them as is or roasting yourself. When roasting go low and slow…low heat for 5-10 minutes. Otherwise, use them raw on salads and in soups, or blend them into salad dressings and smoothies. Again, as with everything…don’t go crazy…all good things in moderation…so as not to throw off your omeg-6 to omega-3 ratio.
Pumpkin Seed Dressing:
Toast half a cup of pumpkin seeds in a dry small heavy skillet over low heat, stirring frequently, until puffed but not browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Reserve 1 tablespoon seeds, then purée remaining seeds in a blender with garlic, oil, water, lemon juice, cumin, salt, and 1 tablespoon cilantro until smooth. Use on salads then sprinkle the reserved tablespoon on your salad as well.
“Hemp is one of the earliest known plants to be cultivated by humans, with a recorded history of over 12,000 years, and has since been grown all around the world for food. An immensely sustainable crop, this hearty plant can be utilized for many different purposes: including using its fiber for textiles and paper, its oil for vehicle fuel and human health, and its seeds for nutrition and vitality. Just like our earliest ancestors understood, hemp’s nutritional benefits are highly renowned, and the hemp seed legacy continues as an ideal source of fuel for human health and energy.” (an excerpt from Navitas Naturals where we get our hemp seeds from)
Containing 10 essential amino acids, hemp seeds are composed of over thirty percent pure protein, making them an excellent daily protein source. They are also composed of 40 percent fiber, the highest amount of any grain on earth and they are packed with an impressive list of nutritional attributes including magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium….they are a superfood indeed!
Enjoy hemp seeds by themselves, or try them sprinkled on just about anything: including granola or yogurt, salads, soups, dips, in smoothies or baked into recipes, such as energy bars.
Hemp-Chia-Artichoke Hummus (courtesy of Navitas Naturals but adjusted by me)
- 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans
- 6 oz’s of frozen or jarred artichoke hearts
- 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon of cumin powder
- 1-2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3 tablespoon’s of tahini
- 2 tablespoon’s of chopped scallions
Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and puree until smooth. Refrigerate for up to one week. Makes 3 cups.
Green Energy Bars:
- 2 teaspoons of wheatgrass or spirulina powder
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup of pitted medjool dates (about 8 large)
Mix the cashews, dates and wheatgrass powder together in a food processor just until a rough dough has formed (allowing some cashews to remain coarsely chopped). Add the hemp seeds and pulse several times until combined.
Place a sheet of saran wrap on a cutting board and spill the dough out on top. Use your hands to press and form into a 1 inch thick rectangle, then cut into 8 pieces.
Wrap and keep in the freezer for long term storage.
Sunflower seeds are super popular…we have all either seen them being chewed by truckers, baseball players or scattered on the floor of the dive bar down in Texas that you stopped at on your way west.
These seeds are a good source of vitamin B6, B12 thiamin, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, manganese and selenium, and are rich in vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol…one of our favorite antioxidants and a strong ally in the fight against free radicals). Some have tauted them to be a supplier of all our nutrient needs, except Vitamin D…them birds are pretty dang smart! I certainly wouldn’t rely on them for all my nutrient needs, but you get the point in that they are good for ya! Again, make sure you are not downing them all day as they are high in omega-6 fatty acids and could distrupt that precious omega-3 to omega-6 balance.
If you buy unshelled seeds, make sure that they are not broken or dirty. They should be strong and not limp in texture. When you buy shelled seeds, avoid the yellowish ones as they probably have become rancid. Sunflower seeds have high fat content that can go rancid, rendering the good fats bad, thus it is always advisable to store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also store them in the freezer. You can eat the seeds raw, roasted, or use it for flavor and texture in your various recipes.
There are so many things in you can with sunflower seeds as far as coming up with fun recipes…from sunflower seed nut butter, to various Indian dishes to sunflower seed and chipotle mole….look em up and have fun!
Traditional societies have touted the positive benefits of this seed for thousands of years. Ancient Arabs would use them as sustaining food for traveling long distances. They are 19% protein as compared to eggs which are 13% protein. They are considered one of the highest sources of calcium in the world when the husk is intact. (A half cup of sesame seeds contains 3 times more calcium than half cup of whole milk) Sesame seeds are also very high in magnesium, zinc, fiber, iron, B1 and phosphorus, and are unique in their chemical structure. Not to mention, they are the ONLY nutritious part of a Big Mac (ya know on top of the bun!).
They contain sesamin and sesamolin, substances that are believed to prevent high blood pressure and protect the liver against damage amongst many other incredible health benefits…that I should probably spend more time on but how about you just get the point and include them in your diet on a regualr basis??!!
Years ago, when I was doing farmer’s market and Roots Wise was making and selling all sorts of herbal products…I used to sell my own version of gomasio and I would keep it in the fridge and in the counter in a shaker jar so I was reminded to put it on everything!
Gomasio is a a traditional Japanese must have and a staple of the Macrobiotic diet. It is a flavor powerhouse. Used as a replacement for salt on whole grains (it’s very good on rice), soups, stews, and vegetables, it’s a delicious way to reduce sodium while adding a little calcium, magnesium, iron, protein, and fiber. Tradtionally it is just dry roasted sesame seeds, ground up a bit and mixed with sea salt.
The Roots Wise version consisted of sesame seeds, nori and kelp, sea salt, milk thistle seeds (for liver support) and nutritional yeast. You can experiment all you want…for instance, I just made some with arame and dulse (cuz I didn’t have nori or kelp on hand) to get my sea veggie quota in! You could always throw in some chia seeds while your at it! Grind them all up then put it in a shaker jar and sprinkle it on everything…from eggs, to salads, to soups!
A word on buying and storing yo’ seeds!
- Always buy as raw and fresh as possible
- If you want salted and roasted cuz you can’t yet deal with raw….roast and salt your own!
- Store in airtight containers in the fridge to preserve the healthy fats that these seeds offer.