Susan Guyette

 

Seeds are one of nature’s amazing gifts. Not only do seeds start plant life and sustain life, they also nurture our bodies in optimal ways. Eating seeds is a time-honored tradition in the Southwest. This article contains three nutritionally rich seed recipes—easy to prepare, make ahead of time and carry with you.

 

Nutritional Benefits

 

As Mother Earth’s plant starter, seeds contain all of the amino acids necessary to form a complete protein plus essential vitamins and minerals to nurture human life. Why are vitamins and minerals important? They are used for the 600-plus hormones created by the endocrine system—adrenals, thyroid, pancreas, pituitary and pineal glands, as well as sexual glands—to regulate all of our bodily functions.

 

The high level of protein found in seeds is important for providing energy, as well as building and repairing body cells, and is part of various enzymes, hormones and antibodies that help prevent infection. Raw nuts and seeds are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA).

 

Sunflower seeds provide protein, linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), dietary fiber, amino acids, vitamin E, several B vitamins—thiamine, pantothenic acid, folic acid)—and the minerals magnesium and copper, as well as cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.

 

Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas del calabaza, are rich in protein, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin E and vitamin K. Additionally, pumpkin seeds have antiparasitic medicinal qualities.

 

Chía seeds are abundant in omega-3s, the B vitamins riboflavin and folate, as well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc.

 

Piñón nuts are actually a seed, making available oleic acid, pinolenic acid (LDL–lowering properties), vitamin E, B vitamins, and the minerals manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Pine nuts are recently recognized as a weight-loss food because pinolenic acid triggers the release of hunger-suppressant enzymes.

 

Quinoa has become known as a superfood because of its high protein content and a rich source of the B vitamins and vitamin E, as well as the minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Red quinoa is high in iron, and black quinoa is high in manganese. Rinse the quinoa before cooking, to remove the bitter saponins.

 

Eating seeds in their raw form provides the maximum nutritional benefits. To take advantage of this, start germination by soaking seeds in filtered or spring water—no chlorine—overnight or for 12 hours. Then, rinse the seeds and spread in a pan to dry. This step is not essential but helps increase the availability of active enzymes, vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.

 

 

Southwest Trail Mix

Package in small containers to carry with you.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

½ cup pine nuts

½ cup currants or raisins

 

Combine, store in a mason jar and refrigerate.

 

 

Southwest Energy Bars

Turn trail mix into an energy bar.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

½ cup pine nuts

1 cup sunflower or nut butter, softened

½ cup currants or raisins

1 tablespoon cinnamon

½ cup barley malt syrup

¼ cup raw honey

 

  1. Spread oats on a baking pan, and roast at 325° for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly browned.
  2. Mix oats, seeds, currants or raisins and cinnamon in a bowl.
  3. Warm the honey and barley malt syrup in a small pan until thinner.
  4. Mix together sunflower butter, agave syrup and honey in another bowl.
  5. Combine the seed and barley malt/honey mixture with the oats until thoroughly coated.
  6. Press into a 7½-by-11-inch oiled baking pan.
  7. Cool and cut into bars with a sharp knife.

 

Makes 16 bars. Wrap individual bars or place in containers. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

 

Variations: Mix chopped dried fruits, nuts, coconut or other seeds.

 

Quinoa Chía Burgers

Enjoy the earthy tastes of this veggie burger.

 

Ingredients:

1½ cups plus 3 tablespoons water

3/4 cup red or black quinoa

1 cup black beans, cooked

1 tablespoon chía seeds

½ red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

3 tablespoons sunflower oil

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon salt

 

  1. Cook quinoa in 1½ cups of water for 20 minutes.
  2. Mix chía seeds with 3 tablespoons water, and let stand 10 minutes.
  3. Sauté garlic and onion in 1 tablespoon oil.
  4. Mash black beans.
  5. Mix all ingredients well.
  6. Form into 6 patties (about ½ cup each).
  7. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan on medium hot heat.
  8. Sauté patties 5 minutes on each side.

 

Serving suggestions: Top with green chile, cheese, sliced tomatoes or guacamole.

 

 

Ancient Wisdom

 

These truly amazing foods have nourished peoples of the Southwest for thousands of years. Eating indigenous foods connects us to our ecosystem, gives us energy and builds a strong body on a daily basis. Discover the healing power of local foods!

 

 

Susan Guyette, Ph.D., is of Métis heritage (Micmac Indian/Acadian French) and a planner specializing in cultural tourism, cultural centers, museums and native foods. She is the author of Sustainable Cultural Tourism: Small-Scale Solutions; Planning for Balanced Development, and the co-author of Zen Birding: Connect in Nature. susanguyette@nets.com