Listen, these seeds, right here? Fantastic. They’re chalk full of iron, good fats and trace minerals, and they’re one of the reasons we are 100% secure in having our babies be vegan eaters.
♥ Hemp Seeds are one of the most nutritionally dense foods out there that we’ve come across. Just three tablespoons are full of Vitamin B1 (important for energy, metabolism, vision and a healthy heart), iron, magnesium (a huge deficiency among people world-wide) and manganese. They’ve also got notable amounts of folate, phosphorous and potassium. They’re mild-tasting and have a nutty kind of flavor that pairs well across the board. Remember to keep them in the refrigerator. We love these ones by Manitoba Harvest.
♥ Flax Seed is such a versatile, time-tested nutritional staple. If you’re vegan and bake, then you’re familiar with the ubiquitous flax egg. And if you’re one who loves DIY vegan beauty, maybe you’ve watched tutorials on how to make flax seed hair gel (YES, indeed)! For our family, this add-in is irreplaceable. Not only does flaxseed contain two grams of fiber in just one tablespoon, and offer notable amounts of Vitamin B1 and Magnesium, but it is one of the best plant sources of highly anti-inflammatory Omega-3 Fatty Acids, in the form Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA)*. Our second daughter has sickle cell disease (a post for another time), and flax is an important way we address the inflammation inherent to the disease and keep her pain-free. It’s also the very best source of lignans out there (wow!), which are fiber-associated compounds found mostly in plants that have a smorgasbord of benefits, like hormonal balance, lowering bad cholesterol and THE HIGHEST ANTIOXIDANT VALUE of any other fruit or vegetable rated by the USDA! You can buy ’em pre-ground or whole. The ground ones digest better and are a lot easier to incorporate. Some people buy the whole seeds and grind them on their own–but we don’t have time for that! So we buy these.
♥ Chia Seeds can do so much for you, once you understand how they work (much like husbands, lol). They’re tiny little things that swell to twice their size or more when you give them a drink, and have a HUGE nutritional impact. One ounce (about two tablespoons) has loads of Magnesium, Manganese and Phosphorous. They also provide good, quality protein (good to know in case someone well-meaning wants to badger you about how your poor, starved little ones will ever get enough protein) and are high in fiber (which is why they sop up liquid so efficiently). Like flax seed, they’re also known for having a high concentration of ALA. We keep these ones around.
*Note: There are three most important omega-3 fatty acids–ALA, docosahexaenoic aside (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA and EPA are thought to be the most beneficial to the body, but are generally not found in plants. The body does convert ALA to both EPA and DHA, but in minuscule amounts. Seaweed does contain some EPA, but it’s often recommended that non-seafood-eating peeps supplement (there are vegan supplements out there, like this one).
How to Incorporate
What we love so, so much about these seeds is how easy it is to incorporate them into almost anything.
Here are four simple ways to use them:
- Add a few tablespoons to a pot of organic oatmeal. Use maple syrup, a nut butter and your favorite non-dairy milk as well, and your kids probably won’t even notice that they’re eating seeds!
- Throw some into a fruit smoothie. Smoothies always work–they just do! Kids love them, and any selection of seeds in tablespoon amounts will just blend right in to your yummy, creamy creation. Remember that flax and chia seeds, in particular, will thicken anything you add them to. So account for that by adding extra liquid, so the texture you’re aiming for isn’t lost.
- Add a tablespoon to your kids’ favorite non-dairy yogurt. Hemp seeds work really well here, but flax and chia can to. If you use the latter, just know that if they sit for too long in the yogurt before it’s eaten, you’ll have more of a pudding (that your kids may or may not like) in the end.
- Add a couple tablespoons to your pancake/waffle/cake batter. Of course, we love our very own It’s Really Vegan mix, and can vouch that it’s just as delicious with a hemp-flax-chia seed trio added.