Yes, these nutrient dense powerhouses will really pack a punch to your vitamin and mineral intake, and with such little effort! Just a couple of tablespoons on most days of the week is all that you will need.
There are so many ways to use 2 tablespoons, but lets first briefly go through a few seeds and their nutrition benefits..
Chia seedsMuch of the world seems to be rediscovering a forgotten crop of the Aztecs, the Chia seed. In the last couple of years, this seed has been touted as the new 'superfood'. But for those cynics amongst us, when I look at the nutrition composition of these seeds, I have to say, it is actually one that stands up to the 'superfood' title and for good reason. They contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids (although the body doesn't absorb plant sources as well so our fish intake is still very important!), protein, soluble dietary fibre, and various other vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, folate, potassium, zinc and protective antioxidants.
When added to water these seeds form a gel like substance, as they also do in the stomach. They therefore have a great affect on satiety, making you feel fuller for longer, possibly assisting in weight management programs.
They are flavourless which allows you to add them to pretty much anything (and the kids will never know!). Try these recipes: Carrot loaded mini carrot cakes and Black rice, seed & choc chip cookies.
Whilst you can expect to pay approximately $8/250g, a little goes a long way and when mixed with other seeds, a pack will take a few weeks to get through.
Flaxseeds/linseedsJust to clear up any confusion, these two are the same thing! Nutritionally they are similar to chia seeds, although chia have around 25% more fat (and I am in no means suggesting this is a bad thing by the way! All seeds contain healthy, beneficial fats).
They are also rich in phytonutrients called lignans (between 70-800 times that in other fresh fruits/vegetables and grains), which our bodies convert into phytooestrogens, possibly beneficial during menopause and in the prevention of some disease states. These lignans are typically lost in the production of flaxseed oil so it is more beneficial to eat the whole seed to gain the full benefits on offer!!
These seeds are also very versatile and although they are most commonly thought of in soy & linseed bread, they can be added to smoothies, pancake batter, muffin mix, fruit crumbles, sprinkled on cereal, stirred through bolognaise, added to pesto..... anything really!
LSA is a mix of linseeds, sunflower seeds, and almonds and I use it a lot, especially in pancakes and my gluten free flatbread
Sunflower seedsSunflower seeds contain protein, fibre, B vitamins, potassium, zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin D, copper, phosphorus and magnesium. ¼ cup of seeds contains approximately half our daily vitamin E requirements.
Sunflower seeds give salads a crunchy boost, taste great in breads, muffins, and as part of a snack mix with other nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Try crushing the seeds, and adding to crushed hazelnuts or almonds, cumin, coriander, paprika and tumeric powder, and sea salt for a delicious fresh dukkah, perfect for dipping crusty bread into with a little olive oil!
They are actually quite cheap too, and a great alternative to nuts in cooking, making them attractive to those with nut allergies.
Pumpkin seeds/PepitasFirstly, a note to all those weirdos who don't like pumpkin (joke! Although I must say I can't understand how you couldn't love the taste of pumpkin!!!), pumpkin seeds DO NOT taste like pumpkin! So don't avoid them for that reason alone!!!
They are a great source of zinc, betacarotene, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. They are also an excellent source of amino acids and provide fibre.
Whilst they are very affordable, it is also very easy to 'make' your own. Next time you buy a pumpkin, instead of throwing out the seeds, just remove them and rinse them to remove the excess pulp. Place on a paper towel and leave to dry overnight! Too easy!
Pumpkin seeds can be used in many foods, including those suggested for sunflower seeds above, however they really taste great as a snack just by roasting them in the oven! Stir through enough olive oil to coat the raw seeds, add a little salt and spice of your choice (try cumin or curry powder) and bake until golden brown, tossing once or twice for even cooking.
Sesame seedsI'm here to say that sesame seeds should NOT just be used as a garnish on the top of hamburger buns! They are nutrition powerhouses in their own right, being rich in protein, as well as many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Sesame seeds are a source of thiamn, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 and folate. These B vitamins are essential to the health of your red blood cells and support your ability to derive energy from food. Sesame seeds also improve your ability to retain and utilize the antioxidant vitamin E which enhances immunity, among other strong health benefits relating to the heart and eyes.
Sesame seeds provide minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and manganese. These minerals and trace minerals support important bodily functions, including bone growth and retention, muscle contraction, immunity and nervous system function.
Sesame seeds contain antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body to ward off chronic disease and the effects of aging. Now who doesn't want that?!!
Tahini is a delicious paste made by grinding sesame seeds into a paste. It is commonly used in middle eastern cooking, and I use it as a delicious base for salad dressings, particularly with wild rice and quinoa!
Although white sesame seeds are most common, black sesame seeds are used in parts of Asia and in Chinese medicine they are used to promote health to the kidney and liver, and to treat constipation and promote regular bowel movements.
Some further points of interest.....
- Some people believe that seeds should be soaked before use, making them more easily digested by the body, as well as increasing the availability of proteins and vitamins/minerals.
- Seeds generally have a relatively high fat and overall kilojoule content, so keep it to 2 tablespoons a day and you will obtain the maximum nutrient benefits whilst maintaining your recommended daily energy intake.
- Seeds can be added to so many foods, you should find it easy to achieve this task. Check out these recipes from my blog and I will have more for you over the next couple of weeks of this task.
Fig, nut and puffed rice bars
Sweet potato, chickpea and chia burgers
So without further ado, let's get this task started!! Check back to my facebook page regularly for more tips, facts and hopefully ideas from you all on how you are incorporating seeds into your day ( : Enjoy......