The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 30, 2013

Amanda Stone: Seeds not just for birds

JOPLIN, Mo. — I ate my daughter’s Chia Pet today. It was delicious.

Seeds are no longer just for the birds. They’re high in fiber, which keeps us feeling full and helps us with digestion. They are an excellent form of protein and vitamin E, which we need to keep our coats shiny. We’re mammals, after all. Don’t even get me started on the Omega-3s; seeds are great for heart health and may even prevent certain types of cancer.

Drum roll, please. My favorite seeds are (in no particular order): chia, sesame, sunflower, flax and pumpkin. They are all easy to find at a grocery or health food store. Don’t be intimidated by the lesser known seeds; they can be familiar friends, too. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are an old standby at this point. They can be found at any store — roasted, salted or flavored — and they make an excellent grab-and-go snack. They are easily grown and harvested at home. I love that.

Chia seeds are my passion at the moment. Thanks to the Chia Pet, chia seeds have become a household name. Yes, you can eat the sprouts from your Chia Pet. They taste and look just like alfalfa sprouts and are a fancy addition to a sandwich or salad. Don’t be afraid; my family eats them on a regular basis. I’ve seen my daughter grazing on her Chia Pet on numerous occasions.

While unsettling at first, eating your chia sprouts just makes sense. You grew them, you spritzed them with water twice a day, and you rotated their faces toward the sun — you deserve to enjoy your harvest.

You don’t have to sprout your seeds. Chia seeds pack plenty of punch all on their own. Because they’re so tiny, they can easily be sprinkled on oatmeal or batter for pancakes or muffins. They virtually disappear. Chia seeds become gelatinous when mixed with liquid, so they are great for making healthy pudding with a slight crunch.

Flax seed is best absorbed in the body when it’s ground. That works out great because it’s so much easier to hide. Add some to mustard or mayo when making a sandwich or to your yogurt or cereal, and always add it to baked goods. You will be the only one who knows it’s there.

Size truly doesn’t matter. Sesame seeds are proof. They pack an incredible amount of flavor into such a tiny package. They add a nutty crunch when sprinkled onto sautéed vegetables or any Asian dish, and true hummus couldn’t be made without tahini, which is sesame paste. They’re definitely not just for your hamburger bun anymore.

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