I’m nuts about seeds. Edible seeds, to be specific.
Seeds play a major role in what I tell my clients to eat. I’m all about recommending that they add flax meal (ground up flax seeds), chia seeds and hemp seeds to oatmeal, quinoa, yogurt and baked goods.
I push poppy and hemp seeds in muffins and breads.
I tell moms and dads to use sunflower seeds for their little leaguer’s snack bag and there is no way I can make it through the fall season without reminding everyone to save their jack-o-lantern seeds to toast up with a little cinnamon of course.
I’m not telling you to retire your nuts – I mean, I’m always going to be nutty – (sorry, couldn’t help myself with that one) – but I hope you broaden your horizons with a little variety of edible seeds.
3 of My Favorite Edible Seeds:
Let’s start with a queen bee of seeds, the sunflower. I’m a huge fan of sunflower seeds. Like most seeds, they’re super low in the allergen world, so parents can easily give them to kids with nut allergies (a great substitute).
They are high in protein and fatty acids, vitamin E (an important antioxidant), minerals such as manganese, magnesium, copper, selenium and phosphorus (important for blood, skin, nerve and many other metabolic functions), and B vitamins (think energyyyyyyy).
For 200 calories in a ¼ cup, they make a great snack and the best part is they require ZERO prep! Yep, just eat them straight out of the bag.
Sunflower seeds were made famous by baseball players, who gave up chewing tobacco and bubble gum for… sunflower seeds in their shells.
While it’s certainly not attractive to watch grown men spit little pieces of shell, spitting vs. swallowing the hulls is up for some debate. The shells of the seeds are tasty and mostly made up of insoluble fiber, which is important for keeping bowels regular and a great tool for slowing down speed-eaters.
If you choose to swallow them, chew the sharp, fiber rich coverings very well so you do not risk damage to your digestive tract.
I remember when chia was launched into mainstream culture as Chia Pets. Whoever knew that those silly potted plants came from seeds that are a veritable nutrition power house?
High in protein, fiber and omega 3 fatty acids, chia seeds are super easy to incorporate into any meal. But many of us still forget how easy it is to sprinkle them on a salad, stir into yogurt or smoothies, or add to bread crumbs.
One tablespoon has only 70 calories and will contribute greatly to feeling satisfied. If you haven’t jumped on this one yet, get going, the flavor is really mild and the little bit of crunch is all YUM. This seed is a no brainer addition to your diet.
The kids look forward to the carving part, but when I’m digging in to a pumpkin, all I see are seeds. You can also use butternut squash seeds, acorn squash seeds or even hubbard squash seeds the same way as a pumpkin seed and they’re slightly less demanding on the biceps to hack into.
I put pumpkin seeds on my salads, on top of my soups or into a trail mix, and recommend you do the same: a quarter cup has 71 calories, and 3 grams of fat and protein. They are rich in phytonutrients, phytosterols, manganese, tryptophan, magnesium, copper, zinc and iron.
Keep in mind that the Spanish name for pumpkin seeds are ‘pepita’ – you’ll sometimes see them sold in the market under that name.
There are a million fancy recipes out there, but I simply remove the slime and innards from the pumpkin seeds and lay them on a cookie sheet prepped with olive oil from a misto sprayer.
I toast at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes, checking and shaking the pan often to toast both sides. Make sure you do the same, they can burn fast.
When they are out and cooled, I’ll add a tiny sprinkle of salt if I feel savory, or a pinch of brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg if I am in a sweet mood.
Edible seeds should be on your grocery list, friends! One last reminder to keep portion control in mind, because even though they are low carbohydrate and full of health benefits, they are not a food to eat in voluminous amounts. Crunch away!