Why you should eat more seeds
Did you know that seeds were once regarded as currency? Or that the humble cardamom seed can help relieve tension?
A new book, written by top nutritionist Vicki Edgson and Heather Thomas, touts the value and many benefits of these nutritional powerhouses.
Amazing Edible Seeds is not only a stunning tome—the photos are simply beautiful—but a gently educational one, comprising chapters that walk you through the surprisingly fascinating history of man’s consumption of seeds.
After reading it's hard not to be filled with understanding and enthusiasm, recognising why we should all eat more coriander, mustard and pomegranate seeds (amongst many others)—and how best to enjoy them.
The recipes cover everything from breakfast to snacks to supper, and are wonderfully easy to follow. What’s more, many use ingredients that you’ll already have in your store cupboard.
As a tantalising taster, below are a few of our favourite recipes from the book. Create, crunch and enjoy!
Pumpkin seed pesto
This fragrant pesto is delicious served as a dip with raw vegetables or stirred into pasta or steamed rice. Rich in omega nutrition, pumpkin seeds help to protect brain cells and support male and female hormone health.
- 25g/1oz/scant ¼ cup pumpkin seeds 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 25g/1oz/scant ¼ cup plain cashews 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 80g/3oz basil, leaves and stalks juice of 1 small lemon
- 125ml/4fl oz/½ cup fruity green olive oil
- 1 red chilli, seeded and shredded
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 2 minutes
- Place a dry frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat. When it’s hot, add the pumpkin seeds and pine nuts. Toss gently for 2 minutes until they darken slightly. Remove from the pan.
- Put the pumpkin seeds in a food processor or blender with the pine nuts, cashews, garlic, basil, lemon juice and most of the olive oil. Blitz to a paste. Gradually add more olive oil until you achieve the consistency you prefer: thicker for a dip; thinner for tossing with cooked pasta.
- Stir in the chilli shreds. The pesto will keep for at least a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Buckwheat-stuffed Mediterranean vegetables
This healthy dish is equally good eaten warm from the oven or cold the following day. It makes a surprisingly filling supper dish. This recipe is suitable for high-protein diets, since buckwheat is higher in protein than rice. It helps maintain blood-sugar levels owing to its fibre content, making it a great supper dish for diabetics.
- 2 medium aubergines (eggplants)
- 2 red or yellow (bell) peppers
- 3 tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling
- 150g/5oz/1 cup buckwheat
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 25g/1oz/¼ cup pine nuts
- grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 100g/3½oz/scant ½ cup diced feta cheese
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, gas mark 6.
- Cut the aubergines (eggplants) and (bell) peppers in half through the stalk. Remove the white ribs and seeds from inside the peppers. Place them all, cut-side up, on a baking (cookie) sheet and drizzle generously with olive oil.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and cool a little, but leave the oven on.
- Meanwhile, cook the buckwheat according to the instructions on the packet. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan (skillet) and cook the red onion and garlic over a low heat for 10–15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened but not coloured. Stir in the diced tomatoes and parsley and cook gently for 4–5 minutes.
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan (skillet) over a low heat for 2–3 minutes, stirring a few times, until golden brown and toasted. Remove from the heat immediately.
- Scoop the cooked flesh out of the aubergines (eggplants) and dice it. Add to the onion and tomato mixture with the cooked buckwheat, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice and feta, and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Pile the mixture into the baked aubergine (eggplant) and (bell) pepper shells and return to the oven for 8–10 minutes. Serve warm or cold with salad.
Or you can try this…
- Turn up the heat by adding a diced chilli or a dash of harissa or hot pepper sauce to the buckwheat filling mixture.
- Instead of using feta, sprinkle the stuffed vegetables with grated Parmesan or Cheddar cheese before putting them back into the hot oven for the final minutes.
Poppy seed and lemon cake
In this contemporary seed cake, the lemon zest and juice add a refreshing citrus flavour while the yoghurt makes the finished cake lighter and moister than the traditional version. The vitamin C of the citrus fruit creates a cake that may help to lower LDL cholesterol, while the seeds’ calcium and magnesium improve digestive function.
- 175g/6oz/¾ cup butter
- 175g/6oz/¾ cup golden caster
- (superfine) sugar
- 3 organic eggs
- 250g/9oz/2½ cups self-raising
- (self-rising) flour, sifted
- 5 tbsp poppy seeds grated zest of 2 lemons juice of 1 lemon
- 100g/3½oz/½ cup natural Greek yoghurt
- lemon zest slivers to decorate
Cream cheese icing (frosting):
- 125g/4oz/generous ½ cup soft cream cheese
- 3 tbsp natural Greek yoghurt
- 2 tbsp icing (confectioner’s) sugar juice of ½ small lemon
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 45 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, gas mark 4. Grease a 20 x 12cm (12 x 8in) deep loaf tin and line with baking parchment.
- Beat the butter and sugar until light, pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add a little of the sifted flour to prevent the mixture from curdling.
- Add the flour, poppy seeds and lemon zest and mix well on a slow speed. Beat in the lemon juice and Greek yoghurt.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until well risen and a thin skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave until completely cool.
- Make the cream cheese icing (frosting): put all the ingredients in a bowl and beat well until thoroughly combined. Spread over the top and decorate with slivers of lemon zest.
Or you can try this…
- Instead of using cream cheese, make some lemon icing (frosting) by stirring freshly squeezed lemon juice into some sifted icing (confectioner’s) sugar and mixing until you get the desired consistency. Pour over the cake and leave to set.
- Pierce the warm cake with a thin skewer while it’s still in the tin and pour over some lemon juice sweetened with honey for a sticky, moist version.
Amazing Edible Seeds by Vicki Edgson and Heather Thomas (£20, Quarto UK) is out now.