Though we don’t usually think about seeds as replacements for animal protein in our diet, they can be a great addition to a vegetarian meal to increase its nutritional value.
At last count, I had the following in my pantry:
. Sesame seeds
What you’ll see most often is white sesame seeds though there are also black sesame seeds. These guys are full of iron and calcium. Here’s what I do with them.. toast them and use them to coat tofu, add them to stir fries, granola bars and other baked goods. Also available is tahini which is a paste made from sesame seeds. I use tahini in salad dressings to make them rich and creamy and I also add tahini to granola bars. It is a great nut-free substitution for baked goods you send to school.
. Hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are a relative newcomer to the seed scene and are now readily available in the grocery store. The great thing about these seeds is they are an amazing source of protein (10 grams per 3 tbsp) as well as essential fatty acids (think fish oil without the fish). They are also a good source of iron.
. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are also a relative newcomer to the seed scene and are also available in the grocery store. Chia seeds are a good source of essential fatty acids as well as calcium. I also add chia seeds to smoothies, baked goods and I sprinkle them on top of yogurt or add them to granola.
. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and iron. I add them to homemade granola bars, salads, stir fries and eat them plain. Sometimes I will make chocolate pumpkin seed bark for us to snack on. It is easy to make and it is nice healthier treat to send to school.
. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are also a good source of protein though not as much as pumpkin seeds (10 g per 1/3 cup vs. 18 g per 1/3 cup). They can also be added to homemade granola bars, salads, stir fries or eaten plain.
Here is a recipe I developed to incorporate all the benefits of seeds:
1/2 cup dates soaked in warm water for a few minutes to soften
1/2 cup cashews or walnuts
1/4 cup white sesame seeds
1/8 cup black sesame seeds
1/8 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cashew or almond butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8″ square Pyrex dish with coconut oil. Process all the ingredients in a food processor until a thick dough forms. Press into the Pyrex dish and bake around 20 minutes or until the edges start to turn brown. Allow to cool before slicing. Feel free to add chocolate chips or dried cranberries if you think your kids will like them. Depending on how big you cut these bars they can provide up to 10 grams of protein a serving.
You won’t find a 1/8 cup measure but you can fill the 1/4 cup halfway to get this amount.