Eating Seeds: Five Ways to Fit Them In
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In the new book, The Need for Seeds – How to Make Seeds an Everyday Food in your Healthy Diet, dietitian Jane Dummer explains the numerous health and nutrition benefits of chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Her book includes the science behind various seeds, and shows readers how including them in the diet can potentially benefit everything from bones to the brain, heart and even skin. The book also provides an array of tips and recipes that make adding them to your meals and snacks both easy and delicious.
I asked Dummer a few questions about her book via email. Here are some highlights:
EZ: Are eating seeds a new food trend?
JD: Eating seeds may be new to some of us, but interestingly, some seeds, such as chia, are ancient foods which were consumed by the Aztecs. Sesame seeds may seem almost invisible, but they carry a big nutritional impact and have been used as an ingredient in many Middle Eastern diets for years.
EZ: What is the nutritional composition of seeds and how do they fit into a nutrient-rich diet?
JD: I hear these two questions often. One portion of seeds—an ounce or two tablespoons—provides around 130 to 150 calories and 8 to 12 grams of unsaturated fat. Interestingly, seeds have a similar vitamin and mineral profile to whole grains or nuts and contain healthy fats and protein. Often an ingredient in recipes, seeds are increasingly taking center stage at meal times and even at snack time as the popularity of quinoa, chia and hemp seeds increases. Some people eat quinoa salads as main entrees, chia as part of their breakfast, or seed based bars as a wonderful nut-free alternative to less nutritious afternoon snacks.
EZ: Can those who have to avoid gluten for medical reasons or have an allergy to nuts eat seeds?
JD: Seeds are a gluten-free and nut-free option. However, it is important to keep them gluten-free by not mixing them with other grains that contain gluten. In the recipe chapter of the book, I identify which seed recipes are gluten-free and nut-free making their addition to your current meal plan effortless.
EZ: What are some specific ways people can include seeds in their daily diet?
JD: Here are five ways people can increase their intake of seeds:
1) Sprinkle ¼ cup of sesame seeds on a vegetable stir-fry for extra protein and iron.
2) Add a teaspoon of chia seeds in Greek yogurt for breakfast or on your salad at lunch. Remember when water is added to chia seeds they become mucilaginous, which is a fancy word for gel-forming. The chia seeds can swell rapidly and create a pudding-like texture, so don’t wait too long to enjoy the yogurt and salad!
3) Ground flaxseed is a great addition to meatloaf and meatballs, and can be used in the coating for chicken or fish (triple the omega-3 fats!). Keep in mind that grinding flaxseeds breaks down the hard hull so you get their full nutritional benefit.
4) If you’re like me and love crunch, add 2 teaspoons of sunflower seeds to your favorite tuna, chicken or turkey salad recipe.
5) Grind ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro leaves; mix with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 teaspoons lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing.
To learn more about Dummer and her e-book, visit her website here.
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