If you were a seed, which one would you be and why? Give yourself permission to ponder this for a moment. Me? Well, I would have to say a watermelon seed. I grew up back in the day before cell phones and computers, so a warm summer day pastime would be sitting in the park eating watermelon. Of course we would spit the seeds on the lawn (because this is before seedless watermelon)! It was the thing to do, even in Southern California.
On my morning walk today I was listening to a podcast from How Stuff Works and they were talking about seed banks and how important seeds are to our everyday life now and in the future. It was interesting how seed banks started and in what form they exist today. If you want to listen to the podcast here is the link: How Seed Banks Work.
Growing an entire vegetable garden from seed isn’t my ideal way to do it. We don’t have a green house so it is a larger effort for us. I don’t mind starting beans like pole beans and scarlett runner beans or zucchini from beans or seeds. However, some of the other garden vegetables I prefer to grow from “starts” where someone else has cultivated the seeds into small plants. Chances of survival are a little better for the more delicate varieties, especially in our region of Oregon.
Pumpkin (aka Pepitas)
My first experience with seeds was when I was a youngish child. Don’t most of you remember spooning the seeds out of the pumpkin, roasting and eating them? I didn’t realize until recently that pumpkin seeds can be eaten with or without the shell. I never knew you could break the shell down to an inner seed. That does seem like a lot of work – but maybe worth it?
Nutrients: One ounce supplies 14% of the daily suggested protein with generous amounts of manganese, phosphorus, iron, zinc, magnesium and vitamin K.
Uses: Add to seed and nut mixes, sprinkle on salads and rice dishes.
When I hear Chia seeds the first thing I think of is the old TV commercial that shows chia seeds growing on a piece of pottery like hair. And then, the lyric that goes along with the commercial sticks in my head all day, “Cha, Cha, Cha, Chia!” (Now you have it in your head.) It seems like the variety of Chia seeds that are edible have been popular for awhile, I just must have missed that memo, and only became interested in them in the last few years. I think it’s weird how they expand when soaked in water and create a gel-like substance. (I don’t soak mine.) You can eat chia seeds whole or ground up. Toast for added crunch.
Nutrients: One ounce has about 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids and 42% of daily fiber.
Uses: Sprinkle on salads and cereals. Mix into shakes or smoothies.
Interesting fact: to absorb the nutrients in flax seeds you need to grind them before you eat them, otherwise the whole seeds will pass right through. I’ve been adding flax seed meal and wheat germ to recipes for years and my husband never knew it until I cleaned the waffle iron. I think I told this story in an earlier blog post but don’t remember which one – so I’ll summarize it:
When I thoroughly cleaned the waffle iron and made waffles thereafter, my husband noticed dark flecks in the waffles (Actually the reason he noticed the flecks of flax is because I used a different flour). He tried to be diplomatic in telling me I might not have cleaned the waffle iron well enough because the waffles had some “debris” in them. I had to admit to him that it was flax seed. He adjusted to the idea of knowing it was “edible” and lived. P.S. to the story: we did end up buying a new waffle iron because after I cleaned it, it quit working (well it was 40 years old).
Nutrients: Per ounce 6 grams omega-3 fatty acids and about 1/3 of daily fiber, manganese, thiamin and magnesium requirements. Also has antioxidants.
Uses: Use small amounts in hot cereals like oatmeal or cream of wheat, waffles, pancakes, chili, or yogurt. [For 2 servings of oatmeal I add one tablespoon flaxseed and one tablespoon of wheat germ.]
It is thought that sesame seeds may be the oldest condiment known to man. A great little seed to have on hand to use with a variety of dishes. Sesame seeds add a nutty taste and a delicate, crunch to many Asian dishes. Toasted and mixed in a food processor with olive oil, it makes up a quick tahini paste. It is high in protein, fiber, calcium, and iron.
Nutrients: One ounce has 57% of the RDA of copper. [Benefits of high copper quantity – it strengthens bones and reduces the inflammatory effects of arthritis.]
Uses: Add to hummus, or sprinkle on homemade bread, cereals, and salads.
Have you ever pulled actual sunflower seeds out of the heart of a sunflower plant? The way the plant grows and rotates to face the sun fascinates me. These seeds have a very high oil content, and are one of the main sources of polyunsaturated oil. Sunflower seeds can be consumed either raw or roasted. The raw seeds retain a slightly higher nutrient value, while the roasted seeds have more of a nutty taste. However, I don’t think baseball players or their fans have a very discerning pallet when it comes to chewing up these seeds.
Nutrients: A handful of sunflower seeds provide significant amounts of vitamin E (the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant), as well as fiber, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and selenium.
Uses: Add to tuna, chicken, or turkey salad recipes. Garnish mixed green salads. Try fine ground sunflower seeds to dust your meats with in place of flour.
NOTE: Freeze whatever you don’t eat within a month as seeds will lose nutrients if left at room temperatures for longer periods of time.