healthy pantry staples: seeds part I

3 September 2015

I have found the key to sustainable healthy eating and living is to have a well stocked pantry, fridge and freezer so that you always have the tools you need to create nourishing, delicious meals and snacks.  Here is a peak (broken into categories) of the foods I always have on hand, complete with a little nutritional breakdown, my favourite ways to use them, how to store and where to find.

SEEDS: PART 1

 

Seeds rarely get the credit they deserve.  They are super tiny, but packed with so much nutrition! High in plant based protein, they are a perfect way for vegan/vegetarians/anyone looking to reduce their meat consumption to pack more protein into their day.  They also contain good fats, the fats that keep us full and satisfied, our blood sugar levels stable and our skin and hair soft and shiny.  You can easily add them to up the nutritional value meals and snacks or eat on their own for a simple burst of energy.  Here are superstars I always have on my shelves:

CHIA:  A great source of omega 3′s, fibre, protein + magnesium.  These guys aid in weight-loss (from that fat, protein and fibre) and play a role in the good health of your skin, heart and brain as well as lowering inflammation in the body.  Due to their soluble fibre (the type that absorbs water and toxins in the bowel) chia seeds are great for detoxifying, slowing down digestion and preventing blood sugar spikes (ie helpful for lowering risk of diabetes).

Flavour/texture profile | very neutral taste (making them easy to add to almost anything)/when mixed with liquid a gel will form around outside causing them to expand and become a bit squishy

How to enjoy | add 1-2 tbsp on top of your porridge, yogurt and/or salads, add to smoothies or try making this chocolate chia pudding

Where to find | your local health food store, most grocery stores, Health Hut (Toronto + Muskoka locations)

Brands to look for | navitas, prana

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HEMP:  High in omega 3 + 6, fibre, protein, vitamin e, magnesium + zinc.  Similar to chia seeds, they are super for heart health, proper digestion, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol management, weight-loss, detoxification and energy.  Great for skin, hair and nails as well as keeping you regular!

Flavour/texture profile | a little nutty, but still fairly neutral tasting/unlike chia, these seeds maintain their texture when mixed with liquids and therefore are more palatable (in my opinion) on top of soups and salads than chia seeds

How to use | like chia you can add 1-2 tbsp to your favourite oatmeal/porridge, yogurt, salads + smoothies,  to top your avocado toast, in your next batch of granola, in homemade cookies or try making your own dairy free hemp milk

Where to find |  your local health food store, most grocery stores, Health Hut (Toronto + Muskoka locations)

Brand to look for | manitoba harvest

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FLAX:  A source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the omega-3 fatty acid shown to lower inflammation and therefore risks for associated diseases (like heart!).  Also a source of the phytonutrient lignans, which are receiving more attention for their postmenopausal symptoms relief.  Flax is a wonderful source of fibre, but it is important to freshly grind the seeds before consuming to ensure proper digestibility and maximum nutrition.

Flavour/texture profile | also slightly nutty but neutral in taste/when ground will turn into a soft powder that is easily mixed into food + drinks

How to use | add 1-2 tbsp to your cereal/oatmeal/porridge, yogurt, smoothies, in homemade cookies + muffins or as an vegan substitute to an egg in baking: 1 tbsp ground flax + 2.5-3 tbsp of water = 1 egg (see recipe here)

*as mentioned above, it is important to grind your flax right before you use in order to maintain freshness and prevent oxidization.  If you grind extra, store in the freezer.

Where to find |  your local health food store, most grocery stores

Brand to look for | spectrum essentials

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Seed storage tips | I like to keep all seeds in the fridge to preserve freshness.  If storing them in pantry is your thing, make sure they are in a cool, dark spot.

 

 

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