Food Topic: All about seeds
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A brief listing of some of the more common seeds available to us in most grocery stores:

  • Amaranth- a seed used as a native cereal in Central and South America.  There is a Mexican dish called alegria, where amaranth seeds are toasted and mixed with honey or molasses.  I have tastes amaranth before and it has quite a strong earthy flavor.

  • Caraway Seed is known for its flavor in rye bread, and it is used to flavor cakes, biscuits, cheese, carrot, and potato dishes. Caraway is used in European, German, and British cooking and pickle blends, harissa, and sauerkraut blends.

  • Celery seed is related to, but not identical, to the vegetable we know as celery. The tiny brown seeds have a celery-like flavor and aroma and are used in pickling, vegetables, salad dressings, breads, soups, celery salt, bouquet garni, pickling and curry spice blends, and the ethnic cuisines of Germany, Italy, Russia, and the Orient.

  • Coriander is the dried, ripe seeds of the common herb cilantro. The tannish brown seeds have a sweetly aromatic flavor which is slightly lemony. Coriander is thought to increase the appetite. Coriander is used in lentils, beans, onions, potatoes, hotdogs, chili, sausages, stews, pastries, and spice blends. It is used in the cooking of North American, Mediterranean, North African, Mexican, Indian, and Southeast Asian cuisines.

  • Coconut- believe is or not, they are seeds. The nutmeat can be eaten fresh, dried or creamed. Valuable oil is also extracted from the nut meat and used for cooking (although it is very high in saturated fat), margarines, soaps and detergents.

  • Dill is an annual of the parsley family and is related to Anise, Caraway, Coriander, Cumin, and Fennel. Dill seed is the ripe seed of the same plant. The flavor of dill weed is lighter and more subtle than dill seed.  
    Dill seed is used in pickles, meats, seafood, cheeses, and breads, salad dressings, dal curry blends, and spices for pickling.

  • Dill Weed is used with fish and shellfish, cottage and cream cheese, and with tomato juice beverages. Used in American, English, Middle East, German and Greek cuisines. Dill's most famous culinary use - the Dill pickle - is at least 400 years old.

  • Fennel is a tall, hardy plant that has finely divided, feathery, green foliage and golden yellow flowers with an anise flavor. Fennel seeds are an important ingredient in seasoning blends of the Mediterranean, Italy, China, and Scandinavia. Fennel is used in curry blends, Chinese five spice, mirepoix, and herbes de Provence. Fennel is also used to flavor fish, sausages, baked goods, and liquors.

  • Flax is being touted as a modern miracle food because of its high content of alpha linolenic acids. Benefits of flax seed as shown in many studies include lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the Bad cholesterol) levels. Other benefits show that flax seed may also help lower blood triglyceride. I do know that you have to grind of the flax seeds to get the most benefit from them.

  • Millet is a type of grass used for cereals in Asia. In the United States it is used mostly for feeding poultry and cage birds. I like to use it as a salad topping

  • Mustard seeds commercially come in two colors: white or yellow and brown or oriental seeds. Mustard Seed is used in pickling spices for vegetables and meats. Dry Mustard is used in egg and cheese dishes, salad dressings, and meats. Mustard is used in French, German, Scandinavian, and Irish cuisines. It was immortalized in the Bible when Jesus spoke of the power of faith "even if it were no larger than a Mustard Seed".

  • Nutmeg is the seed of a fruit which grows on the trees. The same fruit from which Mace is derived. The oval shaped seeds have a sweet, spicy flavor. When ripe, the fruit splits in half exposing the netlike membrane or aril known as the mace. The mace closely enwraps a dark brown, brittle shell inside of which is the single, glossy, brown, oily seed or the Nutmeg. Commonly used in sweet foods and enhances savory foods. Nutmeg blends well with other spices and is found in the ethnic cuisines of Italy, the Caribbean, France, India, Germany, Scandinavia, Greece, Latin America, and the Middle East. Connecticut is known as "The Nutmeg State”.

  • Pine Nuts are the seeds of the Stone Pine, a native of the Mediterranean region, but the seeds of various other pines are eaten in various parts of the world. Pine nuts are very difficult to harvest, that is why they are expensive.  They are used in and are delicious lightly toasted. They become rancid very easily and should be stored in the fridge or freezer.

  • Poppy seeds are very small in size, slate blue in color and are nut-like in flavor. Poppy seed are used topically on breads and rolls, and added to vegetables and salad dressings. Turkish cuisine uses toasted Poppy Seeds, while Indian and Turkish spice blends rely on crushed Poppy Seeds for flavor and texture.

  • Pumpkin seeds can be eaten raw or cooked in both sweet and savory dishes. Delicious toasted and sprinkled, while hot, with soy sauce and served on salads. They are rich in protein, iron, zinc and phosphorous.

  • Quinoa has very high protein content and contains omega-3 fatty acids. Quinoa is a good source of phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest. Quinoa is an easy food to prepare, requiring no more than ten minutes of boiling for a light, fluffy texture with a slight butternut flavor. 

  • Sesame seeds are widely used around the world.  Sesame oil is used for cooking, salad oil and margarines.  Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds and is a key ingredient in hummus (a high  protein chick pea dip).  We see them on bagels, on top of hamburger buns, in crackers, etc.  Sesame seeds contain antioxidants.

  • Sunflowers are an annual plant belonging to the daisy family. North American Indians cultivated sunflowers as long as 2,000 years ago. The oil extracted from its seeds is used in margarine, varnishes and soaps but the seeds can be eaten whole, raw or cooked. They can be added to breads and cakes or sprinkled over salad or breakfast cereals. A good source of potassium and phosphorous.

While researching the topic of seeds, I was amazed at how nutritious seeds are for us.  Some seeds like sunflower and pumpkin contain protein, potassium, iron, zinc and phosphorus.  Other seeds, like flax and quinoa contain omega-3 fatty acids and alpha linolenic acids which aid in lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the Bad cholesterol) levels. Both flax and sesame seeds need to be ground for the most benefits, but simply adding them to your menu still has added benefits.

 -Blend flax, millet and sesame seeds together and keep on the table to sprinkle on salads. 

 -Make a salad topping blend of equal parts of sunflower seeds, raisins, pumpkin seeds and roasted soy beans for high energy and nutritious snack mix (great as a salad topping, too)


Sweet-N-Tangy Poppy Seed Fruit Salad (serves 4)

1 (20 oz) can pineapple chunks, drained (reserve juice)
1 orange, peeled and segmented
1 kiwi, peeled and chunked
2 cups seedless grapes

¼ tsp grated lime zest (opt)
2 T fresh lime juice
1 T honey
1 tsp poppy seeds

Toss fruit together.  Make the dressing using ¼ cup of the reserved pineapple juice, the lime zest and juice, honey and poppy seeds.  Pour over fruit and toss. 


Sesame Greenie Beanies (serves 4)

 ¾ pound frozen green beans, thawed
½ tsp fresh garlic, minced
3 T soy sauce
3 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar

 Simmer together in a sauce pan the garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice and sugar for 3 minutes. 
Add green beans and cook 3 minutes more.  Serve.



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