Seeds: Not just for birds anymore

Contributed by Food for health editors

Seeds: Not just for birds anymore

Think seeds and images of your backyard bird feeder will likely spring to mind.

It turns out that these tiny superfoods, so packed full of nutrients, are also making their way into some of the country’s trendiest restaurants as a garnish of choice — for humans!

There are a lot of seeds now available at your local supermarket or natural food store including the more obvious sesame, sunflower and pumpkin, but also the more obscure flax, chia and hemp. Mix them together and you can create a blend of raw seeds to sprinkle on cereal, oatmeal, baked goods and even salads and soups. Take it a step farther and combine with spices, oil or vanilla extract and lightly roast them.

Reported health benefits from seeds range from lowering cholesterol to maintaining a healthy immune system.

“Seeds have a lot to offer,” said Carole Bartolotto, a registered dietician at Kaiser Permanente. “They can add variety, taste, texture and nutrition to foods. And the grain-like seeds, such as quinoa, amaranth and teff, are also healthy and tasty gluten-free options."

The San Francisco Chronicle recently featured some great ideas for combining and making good use of seeds.

An added advantage: your neighborhood birds will be grateful for any leftovers!

Servings: 48 (about 2 Tablespoons)

Prep Time: 15 minutes


Basic Seed Blend

  • 1 cup pepitas
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup hemp seeds
  • 1 cup flax seeds
  • 1 cup sesame seeds


Pour all of the seeds into a bowl or bag and mix until well combined. Store in an airtight container. Use this mixture blended into smoothies, as a garnish for salads or soups or added to baked goods.

Savory Seed Blend

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Blend 1 cup of seeds with ¾ teaspoon olive oil. 
  3. Sprinkle with a combination of any of the following spices: cumin, fennel seeds, smoked paprika, ground coriander, curry powder, turmeric. 
  4. Rub in well with your hands to coat the seeds with oil and spices. 
  5. Spread the mixture on a sheet pan, place in the oven and cook for about 10-12 minutes.

Cool and use in any of these ways: Add to salads, use as a garnish for soups, sprinkle over cooked fish, sprinkle on avocado toast, use as a garnish for dips or hummus.

Sweet Seed Blend

  1. Follow instructions for savory seed blend, but use vanilla extract instead of olive oil. 
  2. Use any of the following spices: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, allspice. 
  3. Place in oven for 10-12 minutes.

Use this mixture in any of these ways: Sprinkle over oatmeal with other fruits and nuts, puree into smoothies, stir into yogurt, add to muffin recipes or other baked goods, add to cottage cheese with fruit and honey.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 90
  • Total fat: 6 g
  • Saturated fat: 0.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 g
  • Sodium: 20 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 6 g
  • Dietary fiber: 4 g
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Protein: 3 g