It used to be only the health nuts who went around munching ‘bird seed’. Now the nutritional value of seeds is out in the mainstream and everyone knows their flax seed from their chia. Incorporating them into your diet is easy and they add delicious flavour to both sweet and savoury dishes. For economical good sense, hunt them down in the more reasonably priced oriental grocery stores, make up your own mixtures, toast them in your own oven, and grind them up at home. Keep bulk buys of seeds or seed products in your freezer to keep the oils from going rancid. Here are some birdie num num ideas to play with:
SESAME SEEDS: The most reasonably priced are found in The Chinese Supermarket and you can buy either white or black sesame seeds. These nutritious little seeds are key to flavouring dishes from all over the world, and sesame oil and sesame paste (tahini) are essential to the taste and texture of many classic dishes.
ALL PURPOSE SESAME SEASONING: Toast 2 cups of hulled, white sesame seeds on a medium hot, cast iron pan, stirring until they are golden brown. Allow to cool. Grind a cup of the toasted seeds in your grinder and add to the unground seeds. Season with a little Himalayan salt to achieve the saltiness you like. Pop in a glass jar and keep on the table to sprinkle over anything that could do with a little extra oomph - mashed avo; cream cheese sarmies; sliced tomato; steamed veggies; mashed potato; salads and so on.
SUNFLOWER SEEDS: Stuffed with amino acids and good oils, keep bulk sunflower seeds in your freezer and a jar of it in your fridge for everyday use. They are the most reasonably priced of all the seeds, apart from flax seed, and a little goes a long way. Grind up and add to morning porridge; soak half a cupful in water and then add to smoothies; pop the soaked seeds in your food processor to make yummy herby spreads. Here’s my favourite sunflower seed nibble:
SALTY SUNFLOWER NIBBLE: Toast 2 cups of sunflower seeds in a medium hot, cast iron pan, stirring until they have started to go golden. Then add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to the pan and turn off the heat. The sauce will dry up and be absorbed by the toasted seeds. Stir well, coating the seeds, and when cool, pop into a glass jar. When the craving for something salty hits, munch a handful. Too good!
PUMPKIN SEEDS: These dark green seeds are bursting with nutrition and look really classy on any dish. They are favoured in cereals, as they give good long-lasting energy. Make up a jar of honey cinnamon seed crush and sprinkle over breakfast cereals or serve as a quick snack when kids are waiting impatiently for supper.
HONEY CINNAMON SEED CRUSH: Place 2 cups of pumpkin seeds in a cast iron pan on a medium heat to toast, and keep stirring them. Just before done, add this mixture which you have ready in a little bowl: 1 tablespoon coconut oil; 1 tablespoon honey or syrup; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Stir around, coating the seeds with the aromatic mixture – about a minute. Leave to cool, then crush the seeds roughly. This sweet, spicy mix is delicious with yoghurt, on fresh bread and butter, on oats porridge, or simply scooped up for a quick pick me up.
CHIA SEEDS: These magical little seeds have all the omega three oils that you need. Hunt down the best prices and check the price per 100 grams – it is generally cheaper in bigger packs. Keep in a jar in the cupboard and each morning shake two tablespoon into a 250 ml glass jar, then add water. Shake well, then open the lid and stir well with a chop stick. Put the lid on and leave to gel up – this takes about 30 minutes. This gel can keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, just use what you need until it’s finished.
CHIA SEED MANGO DELIGHT: Place 1 cup of soaked cashew nuts (or sunflower seeds) in your blender with 1/2 cup of water and blend until you have a nice thick cream. Make up the delight in tall dessert glasses, starting off with a layer of cashew nut cream, a layer of chia seed gel, then pureed mango on top. You can finish off with grated black chocolate. Oh yes!