At the moment, I am mad about toasted seeds on salads and in soups, they add fantastic extra flavors as well as interesting texture, even a handful of toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds will jazz up the most ordinary of salads. All seeds are little power plants of energy with all the nutrients, such as protein and vitamins, needed for development. In fact they can play an important role in any healthy balanced diet. A handful of the mixed toasted seed recipe below is heavenly sprinkled on salads.
The “king” of the above seed group is the sunflower seed, they have it all, protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Sunflower seeds are low in saturated fat, and contain a healthy combination of Omega 3, 6 & 9 essential fatty acids, crucial to the diet as the body cannot produce them itself – that’s why they’re called ‘essential’. These ‘good fats’ are vital for cell maintenance and helping to regulate blood clotting, blood pressure, immune function and reproduction! Sunflowers seeds are one of the best whole food sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant that mops up harmful free radicals, protecting our cells and cell membranes from damage and reducing our risk of serious diseases such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. With a food so rich in the Omegas, it is also food to help boost concentration in children who might need a little more of it in their diet than others.
If that’s not enough for one little seed, they are also high in folic acid, selenium, iron and zinc, which are all essential for a healthy happy body.
The pumpkin seed, too, has its fill of healthy benefits, rich in amino acids, iron, protein, phytosterols (plant chemicals with a structure rather like the hormone oestrogen, which have been found to help with balancing women’s hormones) and immune-boosting zinc. Another long word found in our little friend is, Tryptophan, an essential amino acid, which has the ability to increase brain levels of serotonin, a so-called happy chemical which can help fight depression.
My favourite in the group, as I have a love for all foods Asian, is the small but powerful sesame seed. These little seeds are high in calcium, healthy polyunsaturated fats, zinc, manganese, copper, Vitamin B1 and Vitamin E. Zinc is necessary to maintain a strong immune system.
We all know that we need calcium for strong, healthy bones and teeth, but did you know that half a cup of sesame seeds contains three times more calcium than half a cup of milk; a great substitute for someone who is allergic to dairy products.
So what are you waiting for… sprinkle away!
Cucumber ribbons with toasted sesame seeds & lime juice
Delicious served with the chicken in sesame seeds or with a fish dish / sushi
1 English Cucumber, cut into ribbons using a potato peeler (peel the skin off, and slice the length of the cucumber downwards, creating long ribbon like strips. Disguard the seeds in the middle)
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
½ lime, juice only
1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional: finely chopped red bullet chilli (disguard the seeds)
- Place the sesame seeds into a dry frying pan and toast until light brown and “jumping”
- Combine the cucumber, sesame oil, lime juice and optional chilli together in a bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and leave to infuse for an hour.
- When you are ready to serve sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds (don’t mix them before serving, or they will be soggy)
Roasted Pumpkin and Sunflower seeds
Delicious as a snack with drinks or over mixed salads
50gms pumpkin seeds
50gms sunflower seeds
¼ teaspoon of celery salt
¼ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
- Heat a frying pan.
- Brush the frying pan with a very small amount of oil, then add the pumpkin and sunflower seeds. They will expand and brown fairly quickly, and when this is done, place them in a bowl and add the salt, celery salt, freshly ground black pepper and paprika.
Crunchy sesame chicken drumsticks
6 chicken drumsticks
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons of corn oil
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
1 tablespoon of plain flour
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs
½ clove of crushed garlic
Sweet chilli sauce, to serve with
- Heat the oven to 190°C / Gas 5.
- Mix the breadcrumbs, cayenne pepper, salt, crushed garlic and sesame seeds and place onto a plate. Mix well and place onto a flat plate.
- Then put the plain flour onto a flat plate and then the beaten egg into a bowl.
- Now you need to coat each drumstick: Place the drumstick into the beaten egg, then into the flour (shake off any excess flour), then back into the beaten egg, then finally into the breadcrumb mixture. Ensure the drumstick is well covered.
- Place each drumstick into a baking dish and sprinkle a little corn oil over each one.
- Place into the oven for 40-45 minutes.
- Ensure before you serve, you have checked that the chicken is cooked through to the bone.
You could also use chicken wings (for a fun BBQ idea)
Serve with cucumber and sesame seed salad. Or go to Stir Frying and find a great recipe for noodles with a sesame and soy dressing.
Thanks to Lakuku Cooking School for this article.
Read more about Lakuku here