A New Take on Ancient Seeds

Go beyond the common pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds and explore flax, hemp and chia.

It wasn’t long ago that Americans thought of seeds as food for birds and squirrels, with the exception of the occasional sunflower seed. Not so anymore. Pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds are now common, but did you know these can be a gateway to more?

Lucky for us, many ancient seeds are making a healthy comeback.

Edible seeds such as flax, hemp and chia have been around for eons, providing nutrient-dense, tasty food for humans, earning them the moniker of super-foods. They can be added to smoothies, baked goods, granolas and cereals. You can stir them into yogurt or add to cream cheese.

Try sprinkling over fruit, cooked grains or legumes. Here’s the low-down on these nutritional darlings.

Flax Flaxseeds have received quite a bit of recognition for their health benefits.  Available whole, ground, or pressed into oil, flaxseeds deliver heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids as well as natural, protective components called lignans. Flaxseeds can be purchased either brown or golden. Both brown and golden flax can have a similar nutritional profile, but many folks prefer the flavor of the golden flax.

To get their full nutritional benefits, flax seeds should be ground into meal. You can do this with a coffee grinder (cleaned!) or mini-food processor. Add to smoothies, breads, muffins and crackers.  Try these fun flax recipes:

Hemp Hemp seeds have been eaten for thousands of years. They are hard to beat when it comes to good nutrition. They deliver a balance of both omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and they’ve got fiber and high quality protein, including all of the essential amino acids, plus iron, zinc and magnesium.

Hemp is not marijuana. It has little to no measurable THC and has no drug value. Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, made into milk or baked into cookies, breads and muffins. Get cooking with these hemp recipes:

Chia Remember the old television commercials advertising the little Chia Pet? You planted the seeds and the sprouts would grow, forming the “fur” of the little animal-shaped plant?

Well, those little chia seeds have moved to the forefront of the seed revolution, where they promise to stay for quite some time. Rivaling flaxseeds for Omega 3s, they offer antioxidants and fiber. They are so small that grinding is not necessary. Purchase whole and enjoy in smoothies, pudding, custard and more.

Their soluble fiber forms a gel that thickens milk or other liquids. You can add flavor with fruits, vanilla or chocolate. Soon to join the ranks of the most popular seeds is the up and coming mila, a conglomeration of the four most nutrient-dense strains of chia.

Cheer up with these chia seed recipes:

Have you joined the seed revolution? Got a favorite recipe or a simple idea? I’d like to know.

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