Well, well, well, if you didn’t know it, now you do: seeds are an integral part of well-balanced, plant-based diet, or for any diet, really. From the right kinds of fat to fiber-y goodness, to protein lifts, tiny little seeds provide a nicely capsulized power punch of nutrients to boost muscle growth and provide lots of energy. Getting more into the nutritional density of it, some seeds are better suited for certain tasks than others, so it’s a useful tidbit of info to know which seeds are best suited for what your needs. Just the same, when it comes to eating, particular seeds have standout flavors and many work all over the place. That’s why it’s not a bad idea to get the lowdown on which seeds are the right seeds for the job, whatever it may be. Let’s get started:
This is a lesser known seed than the recently popularized quinoa, but it operates similarly. Amaranth is a very nutritious food: high in protein, calcium, iron, fiber, and manganese, amaranth works nicely as a flour and can be used in place of rice and other grains. Because of the sticky consistency, it’s especially good for breakfast cereals and in sushi. Try it in this vegan and gluten-free Yogurt Mandarin Cake with Amaranth Crust.
2. Chia Seeds
Chia Seeds have become prevalent with the health food crowds lately and with good reason: they are energizing with lots of fiber, protein and good fats. Chia seeds provide much more Omega 3 than Omega 6, so they are very useful in keeping those omega ratios right to combat inflammation. They also blend quietly into foods, though they don’t add a distinctive flavor, making them excellent for smoothies. They can also be used to create an egg substitute in baking. Whole chia seeds also expand in liquid, as seen in chia kombucha, so they can give texture to juice, iced tea or smoothie and make a healthier boba tea.
3. Cumin Seeds
Cumin seeds are not typically included in healthy seed lists, but they should be. These flavorsome seeds have been used medicinally for centuries. They are rich in iron and are known to help with colds, ease digestive disorders and are a natural anti-septic. They operate more like a spice than seed and are irreplaceable in chili and Mexican food. Ground cumin is also common and tasty in curries.
4. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are another common go-to seed for health food nuts, but they’re really great for everyone. They are renown for the fiber content and are high in omega 3′s, and antioxidants. They also assist in lowering blood sugar. Just be sure to use ground flax seeds, since the whole seeds will pass through the body without providing nutrients. Flax seeds keep better if you buy them whole, however, but can be ground in a coffee grinder or spice blender. Sprinkle the ground seeds on anything, including salads, smoothies, and baked veggies, as an egg-replacer, or even make them into crackers.
5. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are getting quiet the positive reputation these days. They offer a mega-dose of magnesium (regulates muscle/nerve functions, blood sugar and blood pressure) and have a nice ratio of omega 3 fatty acids to omega 6 fatty acids, which assists in good heart health. When it comes to eating hemp seeds, they add a nice, nutty background flavor and mild texture. They blend well in smoothies, or can substitute for sesame seeds on eggplant cutlets.
6. Pomegranate Seeds
Pomegranate seeds have certainly made a splash in the juice and drink industry lately, but they’re healthy for you too. These seeds are tiny tablets of Vitamin C, healthy heart goodness, and endurance. These seeds can be eaten as a snack or added to recipes when you’re looking for a burst of sweetness, such as oatmeal, salads, or in sweet and sour stir-fry. They can also be added to a fresh trail mix in place of raisins, or used to garnish gourmet baked tofu or quinoa dishes.
7. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds are an autumn-lover’s dream, but they work well year-round. They are a good source of protein, potassium and Vitamin E, which boosts the antioxidant content of these magical seeds. Plus, they taste fantastic! Pumpkin seeds are a great snack on their own and also add a nice flavorful crunch to salad, pastas and breads, or they can be blended to accentuate smoothies and sauces.
Quinoa is often mistakenly thought of as a grain because it acts much more like one than a seed in the kitchen. It’s no secret that quinoa is aces on the protein spectrum, but it’s also high in minerals, including: phosphorus, folate, copper, manganese, and magnesium. Quinoa is a great food to include for its high fiber content. Plus, it’s extremely versatile for cooking, standing in for grains like rice or oatmeal, or standing back as an accent in other dishes such as Quinoa with Secret Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomatoes.
9. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds go way, way back to those early childhood baseball games, where shells were deposited right onto the ground. As a health-conscious eater, they are also quite memorable as an impressive source of iron and other minerals. They can be consumed in all sorts of ways, including sprouted seeds or ground into a butter known as sunbutter to make cookies and used in delicious sandwich spreads. If you make your own bread or rolls, dip the top in sunflower seeds before baking.
10. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds have long been a part of some of favorites, adorning the top of burger buns and giving hummus its zippiness. They are also a good source of iron and calcium, and provide fiber that lower cholesterol and protect the heart. In the kitchen, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and tahini really jazz up food with distinctive global flavors. Both tahini and sesame seeds are great in curries and stir fries, especially sprinkled in with eggplant or squashes, yam noodles and okonomiyaki. Add some of these seeds to your menu today and enjoy the delicious and nutritious offerings they bring to your kitchen. For more information on these seeds, see The Ultimate Seed Guide.
Image Source: Raw Vegan Carrot and Flax Crackers