Start by nurturing yourself. A basic way to give yourself the care you need is by paying attention to what you eat and by making healthier choices for all concerned — for you, for the planet.
Seeds are an easy place to begin. While vegetables still have their detractors (Why? Why?), anyone can chomp on a handful of seeds. If you’re struggling, they’ll support you nutritionally and offer a sprinkle of badly needed cheer. If you’re happy, they’ll only make you happier. They offer a crunch that bespeaks indulgence, but with it come the phytonutrients and fats our bodies hunger for, the kind that give us a nice inner glow, no micro-dermabrasion required.
Some seeds we snarf — sunflower seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
Some seeds we use to impart deep flavor in cooking — cumin, cardamom, mustard, coriander, fennel, to name a few of my favorites.
Some we eat without even realizing what they are. All your legumes, from teensy red lentils to massive gigantes are, botanically speaking, seeds.
And some we mean to get around to trying, because we hear how tremendous they are for our health, yet we’re daunted by them — flax, chia and hemp come to mind.
Well, honey, your time has come. Whether you’re flourishing or faltering, you need more of these teensy guys in your life. Flax rules when it comes to omega-3s, those excellent fatty acids. Chia seeds are right up there in the omega-3 department, but they also have a fantastic amount of fiber and antioxidants. Ancient Aztec warriors thrived on them, and they were pretty tough guys. Hemp seeds, tiniest of all, offer more protein per ounce than any animal protein.
Use them individually or mixed together in a seedy cocktail as a topping for casseroles and roasted vegetables. We love texture. Add them to grain dishes, both sweet and savory — oatmeal isn’t oatmeal for me without a sprinkling of seeds. And chia and flax make excellent egg substitutes in baking. Mixing the seeds with a little water forms a bonding agent. Not only do you get the body-supporting benefit of the seeds; you get the nice, cohesive quality of eggs without the cholesterol and without ruffling a single chicken feather.
Miami writer Ellen Kanner is The Miami Herald’s Edgy Veggie columnist and Huffington Post’s Meatless Monday blogger. Contact her at email@example.com.