Our culture tends to subscribe to a “bigger is better” mentality, but that is not always the case, as some wonderful things come in small packages… things like babies and diamond rings (insert heartfelt “sigh”). I’m not so sure who gets credit for the phrase “good things come in small packages”, but this age-old proverb can mean so much more than something sparkly in a small box, although I must say; I’ll take that kind of small package any day (grin).
But since this blog focuses on whole foods and clean eating, I’m sure you have already figured out that I’m referring to food. In this case, seeds. Those who are followers of a paleo diet are big seed eaters and you might even know someone who has eaten seeds to help improve fertility. These little seeds, some of which I’ll profile below, are often an afterthought when it comes to how they are used… a sprinkle here or there or a few dotted on a hamburger bun, but never much attention past that. I want to share with you the powerful punch of goodness these small packages can deliver. These are just a few of the seeds you can easily incorporate into your day. How many of these do you eat on a regular basis?
Chia – one of my favorite super foods (and earlier post), these seeds give you fiber, omega 3’s and (just 2 tablespoons) give you as much calcium as ½ cup of milk. Add to your smoothies, morning yogurt or make a healthy pudding with them. You can even make raspberry chia seed jam.
Flax - another way to boost fiber and help lower cholesterol through the ALA’s (alpha lipolic acid) they deliver. One ounce of flax seeds has double the omega 3’s of salmon, but they must be ground to be efficiently used by the body. Great sprinkled on salad, in yogurt or mixed into oatmeal. I add them to smoothies any time of the day.
Hemp – don’t let the name scare you, this hemp is not going to give you a high, but it will give you a boost of protein (10 grams in 3 Tablespoons). Hemp is a great vegan source of protein (contains all essential amino acids) and is easily digestible. You can add hemp seeds a smoothie, toss them on a salad or use them in a homemade pesto in place of pine nuts. See below for a quick smoothie with hemp seeds.
Sesame – these tiny pale seeds that come in gold, white and black varieties are high in phytonutrients, a cholesterol lowering and blood pressure lowering compound. And as a bonus, they give you a bit of calcium, too. Toast them and add them to chicken salad, stir fry’s and even try them as a fish coating.
Sunflower – I am past the age of needing to crack the outer shell and spit it out in order to get to the yummy middle, so I now buy my sunflower seeds raw and shelled. They provide a dose of vitamin E, keep brain cells healthy, and provide selenium, a mineral that provides cancer protection. I add them to salads and to my homemade trail mix.
There are dozens of ways to incorporate these small packages of goodness into your day, but in the meantime, here’s a recipe to get you started… enjoy!
Simple Hemp Seed Smoothie
1 ½ cups almond milk
3 TBSP hemp seeds
1 cup frozen blueberries
½ frozen banana
2 large kale leaves, de-stemmed
3 ice cubes (optional, to thicken, if desired)