Seeds are eaten all around the world, often in forms that we don’t recognize – beans, nuts and grains are actually seeds. But all seeds are good sources of minerals, vitamins, fiber and healthy fats, and can be prepared many different ways.
Sunflower seeds: Ground sunflower seeds make a nutty and rich butter that’s reminiscent of peanut butter. In fact, sunflower seeds can be substituted for nuts in many recipes. A “poor man’s” version of pesto can be made by using sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. Sunflower seeds also provide a great source of vitamin E.
Poppy seeds: Both toasted and raw poppy seeds are delicious stirred into dressings, especially buttermilk-based dressings, and tossed with salads. You can even make a simple pasta dish by tossing whole-wheat pasta with plain Greek yogurt and poppy seeds. Poppy seeds are very high in polyunsaturated fat, so be sure to store them in the refrigerator to protect their delicate oils.
Flax seeds: These seeds can be blended into smoothies, stirred into oatmeal, and sprinkled into baked goods. Flaxseed oil adds a fresh, grassy element to cold salads and combines well with extra-virgin olive oil in dressings. Because of the high omega-3 content of flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, they should always be stored in the refrigerator, whether at home or at the grocery store.
Sesame seeds: Tahini is a thick paste made of ground sesame seeds and is the base of both savory (hummus) and sweet (halva) Middle Eastern dishes. Toasted sesame oil is drizzled onto many Asian dishes as a final touch, and sesame seeds are often in baked bagels and whole-grain breads. Try including 1⁄4 cup of toasted sesame seeds in your next batch of pancakes! Like poppy seeds, sesame seeds are also a good source of calcium.
Pumpkin seeds: In Mexican cuisine, roasted and salted pumpkin seeds are called pepitas and are often included in salads, dips and soups. To make your own pepitas, scoop the seeds out of a fresh pumpkin and let them soak in cool water overnight. The next day, pat them dry and bake at 350° for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. For an extra kick, toss them with extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and chili powder before baking.