The seedier side of life

Posted on: 5th May, 2015

Category: Health

Contributor: Hannah Dare

Seeds are a hugely undervalued superfood. You can eat them sweet, savoury or plain, in porridge, cereal, cookies, energy bars, salads, on vegetables, bakes, and on their own. If they are treated right they keep well, and can add a huge nutritional and taste boost to many dishes. Nutritionally, seeds contain protein, minerals, healthy oils and super-healthy compounds like fibre, lignans and phytosterols that can be very useful for those of us that need help with issues such as hormone balancing, cholesterol lowering, and general digestion. And with the prices of nuts getting a bit high, eating more seeds make financial as well as health sense. Why not buy a few packets and start experimenting! Read on for a simple way to spice up your seeds and transform them into an addictive yet healthy snack.

First, some seedy information:

Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween! Their seeds with a chewy, pea-nutty flavour that make a great snack all year-round. Great for men (said to help prevent BPH or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia), pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, magnesium, manganese and many other vital nutrients.

Sesame Seeds add a crunchy texture to many Asian dishes. They are often sprinkled on steamed veggies, added to salads, sprinkled on breads and tossed into stir-fries. These nutty tasting, oval-shaped seeds are often ground into a paste called tahini. This paste is a staple ingredient in many Middle Eastern foods such as halva and hummus.

Sunflower Seeds come from the huge head of the sunflower, which is filled with these delicious seeds with a nutty flavour. In many countries people eat them as a snack straight from the kernel; we mostly eat them already shelled, either lightly toasted or raw. They are a great source of vitamin E, magnesium, phytosterols (said to help lower cholesterol) and selenium.

Flaxseeds or Linseeds have been part of the human diet for thousands of years. However, their popularity has increased recently due to their amazing health benefits. These seeds must be ground, soaked or cooked before you eat them so that your body can utilise the nutrients.

Hemp Seeds have a delicious, nutty flavour. Full of healthy omega-rich oils, hemp seeds are available either in their shell or pre-shelled. In their shell is fine for baking; for cereals you might like to try the pre-shelled type.

Poppy Seeds are mostly used for colour and texture; you can use them to decorate cakes, add them to bread (our bakers are making a very popular spelt, lemon and poppyseed scone recently – delicious!).

Selection and Storage

I would always buy organic seeds because seeds are a prime target for agricultural pests so non-organic seed heads are often drenched in toxic chemicals to make them less palatable. Select seeds that are in sealed jars, bags or containers to help ensure freshness. Because seeds are high in fat, they will spoil easily. Store them in an airtight container for maximum freshness. If you buy the ground seeds for cereals it is best to store them in the fridge after opening them.

Seasoned Seedy Snacks

In our Cookery Demonstration this last weekend, Rachel and I showed people how simple, quick and tasty this ‘recipe’ for toasted seeds is. Seedy snacks are pricey to buy ready made, and are SO quick to make — and the basic soya sauce flavour often appeals to kids, which is an added bonus! Try sending little pots to school to spice up the lunch box.

Take a handful each of Sunflower and Pumpkin seeds and a dry frying pan, and heat the pan over a moderate heat. Add the seeds and stir until you hear a faint sizzle and see them turning a light brown colour (a few minutes depending on the quantity of seeds and size of pan). Take off the heat and add a few dashes of Shoyu or Braggs Aminos (Braggs is a slightly different flavour but the same soya-sauce principle as shoyu and it works very as a more nutritious alternative — we prefer not to use a soya sauce with sugar added for obvious reasons — check out your local healthfood store for the good stuff!). Stir and leave to cool before tasting. You can add these seasoned toasted seeds to nearly every salad, and they are delicious scattered on top of rice dishes — or just eat them as a late night snack in place of crisps! If you make more than you want to eat, these seeds store for up to a month in an airtight container. You can also add sesame seeds but wait till about one minute before you turn off the heat as they will toasted much quicker.

Variations: If you like spice, just sprinkle a little salt and chilli over the seeds before they cool; For a smokey flavour, try some smoked paprika; Instead of plain shoyu or aminos try adding about a teaspoon of grated ginger and a teaspoon of orange zest and a teaspoon of honey to three teaspoons of shoyu, mixing well and adding cautiously to your seeds — less is more. This might not keep so well so I would just make what I wanted to eat that day.

For more recipes and health tips why not come along to a Cookery Demo with Rachel and I some weekend? We have just put a new Demo Kitchen in the upstairs of our Cafe, and we close off the top floor for the morning of the Demo. The cost is €45, which includes tea/coffee and fresh scones when you arrive, a 2.5 hour demo and lunch afterwards (you can certainly arrive hungry!) Our next date is on the morning of Saturday, May 23, which we are taking bookings for now; after that we will take a break for the summer and starting up again in the Autumn.

Making a special guest appearance on June 9 is April Dannan. April is coming for an evening of Fermented Delights — including Sourdough Pizza, Sauerkraut, Ginger Bug…it’s going to be fascinating! Booking starting soon and places are limited so if you are interested do get in touch.

For either of these events or to put your name down on for our newsletter to keep up to date with events at Organico please email or private message us on FB. Email for bookings or for the newsletter. If phones work better for you why not call the Cafe on 027 55905 and if necessary we will call you back with all the info. Or just call in! Organico Cafe is now serving from 9am (soon to be 8.30am — our breakfast menu is getting more and more extensive!) till 6pm (we will also be open for some evening meals during the West Cork Music Festival in June). Enjoy the fabulous spring folks!

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