Seeds have been surfacing as “health” foods for many years now. One of the first big players on the block was flax seed. Now if you go in most grocery store you will be able to find chia seeds and hemp seeds. Here is a brief overview of the seeds, their nutritional benefits and ways to use them. Each seed has nutritional benefits and what’s important is to find one that has a flavor you enjoy (pictured above from left: hemp seeds, chia seeds, milled flax seeds).
These seeds contain all the essential amino acids making them a complete protein and a good source of protein for vegetarian and vegan diets. One serving of raw shelled hemp seeds (3 Tbsp) contains 11 grams of protein They are also a good source of Vitamin E, Magnesium, Zinc and Phosphorus. My mom recently bought these in the raw shelled form and I first wondered what the benefit was I now can see the benefit of this natural protein source.
- You can find it as hemp milk, hemp protein powder, hemp oil or as raw shelled hemp seeds.
- If you use the whole hemp seed try mixing them into hot cereal, yogurt or a smoothie (I personally enjoyed it in a smoothie).
- They are small seeds with a bland flavor and are softer than many other seeds so they mix well into dishes.
Yes, I know what you are thinking…cha-cha-cha-chia and yes you are correct these are the seeds from the chia plant. Chia seeds, much like flax seeds they are a source of Omega-3’s. They are also a great source of fiber. One Tbsp provides ~5 g Fiber and ~8% daily recommended amounts of calcium, thiamin and phosphorus. I personally have never tried chia seeds (I have seen them on salad bar lines in grocery stores) but I plan to buy some soon.
- You can use the seeds to make a gel to use as a thickening agent in soups, smoothies and baking. To produce the gel it’s a 9:1 ratio of liquid to seeds. ~1/3 cup chia seeds would absorb 3 cups of water. From what I’ve read you mix this together and let it sit for 30 minutes (stirring occasionally to prevent clumps). Once the gel is formed it can be stored in your fridge for up to two weeks.
- You could also do 1 Tbsp of ground chia seeds with 3 Tbsp of water in place of an egg in baked goods.
- Besides using the chia gel or putting them on top of salads you could use them similarly as hemp seeds in smoothies, yogurt or hot cereal.
- The flavor is supposed to be very mild (I can’t say much more until I try them myself).
Flax seeds have been around the block for some time now. You may have seen my previous post highlighting flax seeds. They are known as a great plant source of Omega-3’s, fiber and antioxidants (they contain antioxidants called lignans). You can read more about them from my previous post but here is a recap
- Purchase them ground, milled or as flax oil. The oil will provide you with the Omega-3’s but no fiber. Ground or milled flax seeds are they type I buy. They will provide the Omega 3’s and fiber.
- Milled and ground flax seeds are great for smoothies, oatmeal and yogurt and can be used in baking as well. 3 Tbsp of Flaxseeds can be used in place of 1 Tbsp of fat or 2Tbsp flaxseed + 3 Tbsp water can replace an egg when baking.
- They provide a nutty flavor.