Three Versatile Seeds
Today I’d like to talk about three seeds that highlight the versatility of this food category: hemp seed, chia, and lentils. All three store well (without refrigeration), are cheap and easy to find, and are nutritional powerhouses.
Hemp seed is an inexpensive, delicious source of high quality plant protein. Just a couple of tablespoonfuls added to oatmeal, cold cereal, smoothies, or casseroles makes it easier to meet your protein needs for the day. Eating hemp seed with whole grains makes them slower to digest and lowers their glycemic impact.
Lentils, by contrast, are a “stand alone” seed that can become a meal in themselves. Add seasonings, aromatics (onions, carrots, celery), cook for 15 minutes, and you have a nourishing, inexpensive stew that can be eaten on its own, thinned to make a soup, or serve as a topping for rice, “zoodles,” or pasta. One of my favorite dishes is koshari, the Egyptian fast-food go-to. Koshari is lentils served over pasta mixed with rice, with a rich tomato sauce, a few chickpeas, and crispy fried onions on top, for crunch. Delicious!
Last is chia, a seed from the mint family that has the useful property of being able to thicken liquids. Added to plant-based milks with a teaspoon of vanilla and a bit of honey, and put in the refrigerator for four hours, it becomes a tasty pudding. Chia can also lend body to smoothies (like ground flax seed, another vegan thickener). All of these seeds are available in supermarkets or in Aiken’s own health food store, Foods for Better Living, at 1619 Whiskey Road (in the Mitchell Shopping Center).