Seeds are good for a lot more than filling your bird feeder and giving your gerbil a treat. With a little work, these little storehouses of goodness can be tasty too.
According to Chinese Medicine theory, they have a dense, heavy nature – lots of potential in a tiny package – and strengthen our energy (qi) and in some cases our reserves (Jing). This is the energetic equivalent of having money put not only into your current account, but into your savings too! Their natural sweetness nourishes the qi, and the heavy oily nature moistens the bowels (lots of fiber) and has a grounding effect. Perhaps the high levels of minerals (zinc, magnesium, copper, vitamin e, etc.) and other goodies (the “good” fats) explain why they make such great tonics.
Sesame seeds are neutral in temperature, and perhaps the best Jing tonic of the bunch. They make a great coating for everything from sushi to bread rolls. Tahini (essentially hulled mashed sesame seeds) makes excellent dips and dressings, and is an essential ingredient in Hummus. Halva (essentially tahini with a sweetener, often with nuts added) is a tasty treat, especially baked lightly and served hot – mmmmm. Sesame seeds contain lots of calcium (a good dairy-free source for the bones, especially as tahini), magnesium and zinc, and lots of fibre, including lignans. Lignans are antioxidants, which seem to bind with oestrogen receptors, and are being investigated as a possible way of helping some cancers. It is no wonder then that I saw them recommended on a couple of websites for “thin and frail budgies”!
Pine Kernels, along with sesame seeds, nourish yin and have a moistening effect on the bowel. They are great lightly toasted in a salad or filling. Try making your own pesto with a handful of pine kernels, a handful of fresh basil, a hearty grating of Parmesan, a splash of olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Blend or mash in a pestle and mortar, and have a lively and nutritious pesto. If you are feeling adventurous why not add in some sundried tomatoes, chipotle chillies, or substitute coriander for basil.
Sunflowers seem masters of extracting the suns energy, and their seeds are sweet, warming, and tonify the qi as well as moistening the bowels. They are high in B vitamins (like folate and thiamine), Vitamin E (a powerful anti-oxidant), selenium and copper.
Pumpkin Seeds’ neutral sweet nature strengthens the digestive system, whilst the bitterness drains damp, and kills worms in the digestive tract. Rich in both essential fatty acids and zinc, they are often recommended as ‘prostate food’. If you like Greek words, they are also packed with carotenoids (the stuff that makes carrots a pretty colour, and helps the immune system by hoovering up free radicals) and phytosterols (thought to help reduce cholesterol levels). Most seeds, being dense and fatty, can aggravate damp and phlegm in large amounts, and may aggravate loose bowels – pumpkin seeds are an exception.
Have I sold them to you? Why not try these ideas to get more of them into your diet.
- Get a good handful of pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, and dry roast them in a heavy frying pan. When they start to brown and pop, give them a light covering of soy sauce, stir in, and remove from the heat. These seeds are delicious on their own as a snack, and make a great topping for a salad.
- Make a crumble, and add in a good measure of seeds before you bake it. They add an extra dimension of taste and crunchiness that works for savoury crumbles as well as sweet ones (my favourite is roasted root veg in a paprika tomato sauce).
- Try some Crisp Breads. These delicious snacks are dairy, sugar and wheat free, yet they taste nice. I know that you don’t believe me – food that is dairy and wheat free, and contains large amounts of seeds sounds like righteous food. You know – the bland stuff where the only pleasure you get from it is the righteous feeling of eating such healthy food as you chew steadily for the next fifteen minutes. Well try this and be amazed.
Mix together 1 cup (as far as I am concerned measuring in cups and jazz music were the two great gifts from America) of maize/corn flour (this is the yellow corn flour used to make tortillas, not the white stuff for thickening sauces), ½ cup each of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup sesame seeds and golden linseeds, ¼ cup olive oil, 1 cup warm water and 1 tsp of salt. Mix the goo together, and spread a thin layer over two greased baking trays. Cook in a cool oven (150 degrees) for an hour – your crisp breads will be beautifully golden and crispy (not surprisingly). Smash them into snackable pieces and watch them disappear like hot-cakes.
So buy some seeds today, and if you don’t like them, you can always plant them!