Raving About Raw Seeds!
by Paulette Millis
Raw seeds, like raw nuts, are brain food. The unsaturated
fat they contain is essential for brain function. Udo Erasmus
says the brain is 60 percent fat! Could we say we are all “fatheads”?
Sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, and sesame seeds are some of the
richest foods in nutritional value. They perform the same
function as grains in that they are responsible for the reproduction
of the species. They embody the life principle and the nutrients
to support the generation of life, although they don’t
contain the perfect balance of nutrients as grain does, being
higher in protein and unsaturated fat.
Sunflowers are native to North America. They are valued for
the nut-like meat and the oil that can be pressed from them.
They grow well anywhere. Spread the heads out in a dry place,
or hang to store. Do not stack them to dry or they will mold.
When dry, the seeds can be rubbed off by hand.
Sesame seeds were originally a staple food of the Middle
East. It is a small seed, said to be the champion of all
seeds due to its high nutrition value, as well as its oil.
Pumpkin seeds, when shelled, are a flat green seed, known
also as “pepitas.” Unrefined cold-pressed pumpkin
seed oil is healthy as well.
Hemp seeds are also a wonderfully healthy addition to the
diet and can be used in a variety of ways, in addition to
the hemp oil extracted from them. The taste of hemp seeds
is dependent on the moisture level during harvest season.
According to Rawganics® (www.rawganics.com), producers
of organic Canadian hemp seeds, too much moisture contributes
to a slightly bitter aftertaste. Hemp seeds are delicious,
somewhat like raw cashews. They have a smooth, creamy, nutty
taste. Organic hemp contains no THC, the psychoactive substance
NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICINAL
Raw seeds are an excellent choice for essential fatty acids
(EFAs). These unsaturated essential fats are very easily
digested. EFAs are extremely important for many body processes.
Due to the “bad” fats available in our food supply,
I would say the deficiency of EFAs is almost an epidemic
in our society. Young children on the standard diet are particularly
deficient and this often shows up as learning disabilities,
skin rashes, and a host of other problems. Anyone with an
autoimmune illness, or health challenge of any kind, needs
to take a good look at their fat choices.
EFAs are involved in the production of life energy in the
body from food substances, and the movement of that energy
in our systems, and they govern growth, vitality,
and mental state.
Linoleic acid (LA) and linolenic acid (LNA) are involved
in the transfer of oxygen from the air in the lungs. They
are needed in the transport of oxygen from the
red blood cells across the cell membranes. EFAs are important in the structure
of all cell membranes. They play a part in maintaining the fluidity of each membrane.
They are also structural parts of the small organs within each cell.
LA (omega 3) and LNA (omega 6) shorten the time required
for the recovery of fatigued muscles after exercise, by
facilitating the conversion of lactic acid
to water and carbon dioxide. They are involved in the secretion of all glands,
both juice-producing (exocrine) and hormone-producing (endocrine).
EFAs are the precursors to prosta-glandins, hormone-like
substances which regulate many functions of all tissues.
Examples are: affecting the tone of all smooth
muscles, lowering blood pressure, relaxing coronary arteries, and inhibiting
platelet stickiness. That is why they are naturally anti-inflammatory.
These essential fats are growth-enhancing and having more
than 12 to 15 percent
EFAs as one’s total daily calories increases the metabolic reactions in
the body. This increased rate “burns” more fat into carbon dioxide,
water, and energy, resulting in weight loss. So eat lots of these raw seeds and
do not worry about “fat calories”!
EFAs are also involved in the transport of excess cholesterol.
In young people, LNA is required for brain development,
and a deficiency during a mother’s
pregnancy can result in a child’s permanent learning disability. EFAs also
buffer excess acid and excess base in the system. They are involved in absorption
of sunlight and ultraviolet light and are the highest source of energy in nutrition.
In reality, EFAs govern every life process in the body and without them life
Some of the above information is taken from Udo Erasmus’s book, Fats
Oils, a good source for more information on the nutrition of seeds.
As hemp seeds are relatively new to the market it is difficult
to find a lot of nutritional information. Several producers
of hemp say it is the highest source
of EFAs in the plant kingdom. Canadian-grown organic hemp from Rawganics® is
purported to have five percent gamma linoleic acid content, double the two percent
norm in other varieties. GLA in a food source is rare—evening primrose
oil, borage oil, and black currant oil are the usual sources that are obtained
through supplementation. A healthy body will convert the linoleic (omega 6 LA)
to gamma linoleic (GLA) but when health challenges are present this often does
not occur. Organic hemp ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is about 4:1. Hemp seeds
are green, which comes from a high chlorophyll content and is beneficial for
cleansing the blood and improving health.
Seeds are also a good source of protein. They are as rich
in protein as legumes. When combined with legumes the amino
acid balance is more complete and therefore
more nutritious. For example, when sunflower seeds and peanuts are combined the
protein value is especially high. (See Sunflower Peanut Butter recipe.) Frances
Moore Lappe states: “No one knows precisely how much more usable protein
we get by eating complementary proteins together compared to eating them separately,
though it is safe to say the increase is significant.”
Sunflower seeds have 24 to 35 percent protein and sesame
seeds 19 percent. The sunflower seed protein is also more
usable, likely due to the lower lysine and
isoleucine content in sesame seeds. Sesame seeds contain calcium, phosphorus,
iron, unsaturated fatty acids, protein, thiamine, potassium, and vitamin A. They
will lose much of their value when decorticated, according to Frances Moore Lappe.
To avoid this, purchase the “unhulled” variety and grind them in
a blender or mortar and pestle. Sunflower seeds contain phosphorus, iron, calcium,
potassium, magnesium, niacin, vitamins A and B, especially thiamine, and smaller
amounts of copper, zinc, silicon, and flourine. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source
of protein and essential fatty acids, as well as zinc, iron, phosphorus, calcium,
and niacin. The organic hemp producers say that it contains nine of the amino
acids, making it a good protein choice. I like to mix hemp protein powder with
a vegetarian protein powder in my smoothies.
Seeds are much more nutritious in their raw state because
heat denatures the protein and fat. The fat in seeds easily
goes rancid if they are not stored in
the refrigerator. Rancidity is easily disguised by roasting and flavouring, so
buying fresh raw nuts and eating them raw or roasting them yourself is ideal.
BUYING, COOKING, AND STORING
When growing your own sunflower seeds, pick the heads after
the seeds are fully formed but before they are mature and
completely dry, and store them in their
shells for up to a year in a cool dry place, protected from insects. Keep the
shelled seeds in a closed container in the fridge and they will retain their
quality for months.
If you have home-grown pumpkins, you may scrape out the seeds
and roast them, as is, or boil them for fifteen minutes
to soften shells and then roast them
to use as “spits”.
To buy sunflower and pumpkin seeds choose organic, if possible,
and buy them from a supplier who keeps them in the fridge,
as they become rancid if left at
room temperature. Store them in the fridge or freezer until use.
Hemp seeds are best sold vacuum packed and after opening
they need to be stored
in the fridge or freezer.
Sesame seeds are sold both “hulled” and “unhulled”, and
as far as I know, they do not need refrigeration. The unhulled seeds are especially
flavourful if toasted in a dry fry pan for a few minutes.
Try substituting seeds for nuts in recipes such as muffins,
quick breads, cakes, etc. Sunflower seeds develop a nuttier
taste if roasted for about fifteen minutes
in a 350ºF oven, or in a fry pan on medium heat, shaking the pan, for 5
to 10 minutes until lightly browned.
Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, and hemp seeds may all be ground
to make a “seed
meal,” and used in place of one quarter of the flour in a recipe. This
increases the nutritional value. Seed meals also may be used to thicken stews,
The seed meal may be roasted for another tasty option. Just
toast in a dry pan as above, or roast on a bake sheet at
200ºF, stirring often. Toasted seed
meal is especially good on cereals, fruit desserts, breads, muffins, or cake
toppings, and even in green salads.
Use whole seeds in smoothies, on cereals, in stir fries,
stuffings, or any baking. Make seed butters with raw or
roasted seeds (see recipe section). Use on celery
sticks, whole grain crackers, or anywhere you would use peanut butter. I like
dabs on my salad. Soaked pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds are great tasting as
is. I like to keep a small glass jar with soaked seeds that I sprinkle daily
on my salad. What about trying hemp pesto?
Sesame seeds make an excellent milk:
blend 1/2 cup seeds with 1-1/2 cups water, strain and use.
Sesame tahini is
made from hulled sesame seeds ground to a fine
paste, and used in hummous or mixed with peanut butter or honey for a great spread.
Combine with nut milks, cream soups, and baby foods for extra nutrition.
Gomasio (see recipe section) is a condiment made from toasted
sesame seeds and sea salt and is a great salt substitute
on veggies, salads, etc.
Try “Tamari Roasted Seeds”. Just add a little tamari soy sauce before
roasting or toasting, or try the Savory Pepitas in the recipe section. Make snack
mixes for travelling or hiking by mixing dried fruits such as apples, cranberries,
and/or raisins with raw pumpkin seeds and roasted peanuts, to increase the protein.
Sunflower Peanut Butter
(I like dabs of this on my salad)
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
3/4 cup raw peanuts
1/2 tsp celtic salt
Toast the seeds and then the nuts in a dry pan at medium
high heat, shaking almost continually. Be careful not to
allow them to burn. Put a few in the blender, add 1/4 cup
olive or hemp oil to start the process, then add the salt,
if desired, and the rest of the nuts and seeds. Blend to
a creamy butter. The combination of the peanuts (legumes)
and the seeds makes for a higher quality protein.
– Contributed by Tania Hughes
Sunflower: may be made with either raw or roasted seeds,
although most people prefer roasted. Begin with a few seeds
in the blender, add a bit of oil (unrefined sesame, olive,
or almond), continue to add remaining seeds with a bit
of celtic sea salt, if desired. Be careful with the oil,
it is easy to add too much and then the butter is too runny.
Sesame: make with unhulled brown sesame seeds but do not
use raw seeds as they are extremely bitter. In The
Complete Book of Natural Foods, Fred Rohe says white seeds are as
nutritious as unhulled brown ones. Continue as for sunflower
Pumpkin: again, use raw or roasted and continue as above.
May use pumpkin seed oil instead of others.
Hemp: raw hemp nut seeds. Use hemp oil or oil of choice.
Make as above.
Stir sesame seeds in a medium hot pan until toasted, or grind
to a meal and then toast, stirring continually until a
light brown. Add celtic sea salt to taste; start with 1
tsp. Mix well and store in the fridge in a glass container.
Use in place of salt and pepper. Variation: add kelp powder,
parsley flakes, cayenne, or any other herb you desire,
2 cups raw hulled pumpkin seeds
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp marjoram
1 tbsp Bragg’s Vegetable Seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
Place the pumpkin seeds in an even layer in a large, shallow
roasting pan. Bake at 375ºF, shaking the pan occasionally.
The seeds will begin to pop after 5 minutes. Continue baking
until the popping slows down, about 10 to 12 minutes. While
the seeds are baking combine the remaining ingredients in
a small bowl. Drizzle the spice mixture over the seeds as
soon as they are removed from the oven. Toss until evenly
coated. Let cool completely before transferring to a tightly
covered glass jar. Makes 3 cups.
1 cup yogurt, or 1/2 box of Mori-Nu silken tofu, or 1 serving of protein supplement
1 frozen banana
1 cup of berries of choice,
fresh or frozen
1 cup of rice dream, or apple juice, or liquid of choice
1/3 cup hemp seeds; piece of fresh ginger, size of thumbnail,
peeled, optional; piece of fresh coconut, optional,
or coconut milk; 1 tbsp hemp oil. Blend and
serve. Double for 2 servings.
Sunflower Seed Cakes**
These are gluten free!
(Makes 18–24 small cakes)
3 cups shelled sunflower seeds
2 tsp honey or maple syrup
2–4 tbsp butter or olive oil for frying
6 tbsp (approx.) fine cornmeal
Put the seeds in a heavy saucepan with 3 cups of water
or vegetable broth, then simmer, covered, over low heat
one hour. If water remains, cook further, uncovered, to
evaporate it. Grind the seeds, or press them through
a food mill. Mix
in the honey or maple syrup, and work in cornmeal, a spoon
at a time, for a stiff dough. Shape into thin, about 3-inch
diameter cakes, and brown in butter or oil on both sides.
Very good with plain apple or apricot sauce for breakfast.
Or sweeten the sauce, add powdered coriander seed or other
spices, and have them for dessert.
Into a bowl put:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp melted honey
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup sunflower seed meal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup fruit juice
(e.g., organic apple juice)
3 egg yolks
Mix well. Fold in: 3 stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into
well greased muffin tins and bake in a moderate oven about
25 minutes. Meal can be made in a nut grinder or a blender.
*taken from Nutrition,
Cooking and Healing, Paulette Millis
**adapted from a recipe in The
Kitchen Gardener’s Companion,
***adapted from a recipe in Ten
Talents, Frank and Rosalie
References: Fats and Oils,
Udo Erasmus; The
Companion, Patricia Katz; The
Complete Book of Natural Foods,
Fred Rohe; Ten Talents,
Frank and Rosalie Hurd; Foods
That Heal, Bernard Jensen; www.rawganique.com.
The above information regarding nutritious food is not intended
to replace any instruction from medical or health professionals.
Paulette Millis lives and works
in Saskatoon as a counsellor and nutritional consultant.
Her cookbook, Nutrition, Cooking
and Healing, is available in health food stores, or by calling Paulette at
(306) 244-8890, or visit www.geocities.com/paulettemillis.