This happens to me all of the time: It’s late, you’re lying in bed. You can feel your eyelids slowly closing with the heaviness of the day and then all of the sudden your creativity strikes! An indispensable idea pops into your head and a war begins. Do you wake yourself up and try to write it down in an ideas-journal? Or do you just hope that you will recall this thought in the morning?
Getting back to the point, let’s use this scenario as a metaphor. Seeds, nuts and various sprinkle-able foods are the extraordinary last minute thoughts. They aren’t always a priority but definitely should be. Here are a few accessible and ultimately healthy last minute vegan seasonings that can be sprinkled on top of your salads, veggies, smoothies, etc.
1. Flax seeds.
Flax seeds are crunchy and wonderful. They are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids (the very “good” fat) which is extremely important for your heart, as well as the nervous system, hair and skin. Flax seeds are also high in fiber, containing 8 grams in just one tablespoon! The oils and acids may protect against cancer, lower blood pressure, alleviate depression and assist your liver. The lignans, which are fiber-like nutrients in flax, provide the same benefits as an antioxidant. For most benefits, grind the flax seeds in your coffee grinder before adding to your cereal, smoothies, soups, salads, and more.
2. Chia seeds.
Although all of these foods are versatile, chia seeds are so versatile that they can even be the star of a meal. Chia seeds are a natural thickener. Soak them overnight in any kind of non-dairy milk for a chia seed pudding breakfast the next day! Chia seeds, like flax seeds, are very high in omega-3’s and fiber. They contain good fat, protein, magnesium, calcium, manganese and a host of antioxidants. The fiber, fat and protein in chia effectively helps with weight loss, lowering cholesterol and heart disease. Chia seeds can be used to fight against diabetes and due to the manganese, can help stabilize blood sugar.
3. Sesame seeds.
I believe sesame seeds do not get the attention they deserve. They are often overlooked as just another addition to an everything bagel and should be credited with a lot more than that. Sesame seeds are an excellent source of copper, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, iron (helps with anemia), vitamin B, fiber, and zinc. The calcium in sesame seeds has been known to help with anxiety and the zinc is good for your liver, eyes, and hormones.
4. Pepitas or pumpkin seeds.
Pepitas, also known as pumpkin seeds (but I think the word pepita has a bit more flair) are one of my favorite seeds. They are delicious, especially when roasted and salted. These yummy drops of heaven are high in omega-3’s (am I being redundant, but in the best way possible?). Pepitas contribute to immune support, are good for prostate health, and post-menopausal health.
5. Nutritional yeast.
I remember the first time I heard about nutritional yeast from my friend Rosie. I was completely intrigued and bought a bottle of it that night. I’ve been sprinkling it on just about everything ever since. Nutritional yeast has a powdery, flaky consistency with a “cheesy” taste, but it is completely vegan and gluten free. It’s inactive yeast, so it won’t rise, grow or produce beer. It is one of few vegan sources of vitamin B12 and other important nutrients, but most importantly adds amazing flavor. I love to sprinkle it on salads, popcorn, veggies, scrambles, and soup. Nutritional yeast might not be the best addition to a fruit smoothie, but if you’re into that, go you.
6. Hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are great in smoothies and sprinkled on savory foods. Hemp makes really itchy necklaces, but when consumed, provides you with omega-3s (again!), vitamin E, easily digestible protein and anti-inflammatory agents. Hemp seeds are a great way to stay heart-healthy. They are also a great source of amino acids which leads me to…
7. Liquid aminos
The second I welcomed liquid aminos into my life, I never let them go. I love salty foods and believe soy sauce tastes delicious on almost everything. Liquid aminos are an incredible and delicious alternative to soy sauce. They taste very much like each other, except that liquid aminos doesn’t contain MSG, added salt, and gluten. Like the name suggests, this dark wonder contains all 16 essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building block of protein, and especially if you are not getting enough protein, liquid aminos can contribute immensely to your health.
Note: This will taste terrible in a fruit smoothie, but really great on steamed veggies.
Matcha is a fine, powdered green tea. Because it is dissolved in water, and not just steeped, you consume the whole leaf which heightens the health benefits. One cup of matcha is equal to 10 cups of green tea, which means that the antioxidants and nutrition you get from green tea is multiplied by 10. It is known to burn calories, give you incredible energy and help with detox. Matcha can be made on its own using hot and cold water or as a latte with non-dairy milk. It is also delicious in a morning smoothie for a great energy boost.
Some other noteworthy sprinkle-able foods: sunflower seeds, nuts (e.g. almonds, cashews, pine nuts, walnuts, etc.) or crispy chickpeas.
For roasted chickpeas: Just drain and rinse one can of chickpeas. Dry them and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle on salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, but any spice will be delicious. Bake on 400 for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
I hope I made your meals more exciting. I also hope I encouraged you to start a last-minute-idea book as well. Enjoy!
Also by Samantha: 6 Benefits of Chlorophyll and How to Get it!
More healthy eating tips: 4 Ways to Cook with Herbs
Photo: Samantha Matcovsky