A few weeks ago, I taught a vegan cooking and nutrition workshop here in Cusco. The goal of the workshop was to teach vegans how to build a nutritious and well-balanced diet, and we went over some good foods and cooking techniques to utilize to make sure what they are eating is nutrient dense.
One such cooking technique and food is toasted seeds. Seeds are a super-nutrient dense food, full of protein, unsaturated fats, and a plethora of vitamins and minerals. And as it turns out, roasting them prior to consumption may actually make these nutrients more bioavailable. Not to mention that it makes them taste deeeeelicious.
I looked around to see what types of seeds I could get here in Peru, and found that sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are pretty plentiful. I tried my hand at toasting them before the workshop- all you have to do is put a frying pan on low to medium heat, coat the bottom of the pan with seeds, and stir until they become fragrant and sizzling. Cool them on a plate and them store them in a jar and keep in your pantry for a few weeks.
I decided to put some on my salad for lunch. And it was a game changer. They added such a nice crunch and toasty flavor to my salad, and also made it more satisfying. Now, I rarely eat a salad without them on it and think I am hooked for life.
Lately my favorite salad has just been a simple shredded carrots and purple cabbage mixed with some scallions and cilantro (all of these things are really easy to find in the markets here). I call it sunshine salad because its so colorful and chock-full of nutrients. Topped with some toasted seeds and a simple olive oil and lime juice dressing, it makes an easy no-cook vegetable side, or even lunch.
I’ve started putting roasted seeds on everything- stir-fries, all types of salads, even on avocado toast. If you are vegan in particular, they can be a nutritious addition to your diet.
2 carrots, shredded
¼ head of a medium purple cabbage, shredded
1 small bunch of green onions, chopped
1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
½ cup of toasted sesame seeds or sunflower seeds
¼ cup of olive oil
1/8 cup of white vinegar or lime juice
Salt to taste
To toast seeds, heat a frying pan on the stove on medium heat. Put a layer of nuts/seeds on the bottom and toast and begin to toast, watching and shaking the pan frequently. When nuts begin to brown, they are done, usually after about 3-4 minutes. Put on a plate to cool.
In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrots, cabbage, chopped cilantro and green onions and mix until combined.
To make the dressing, combine olive oil and vinegar/lime juice with salt to taste and mix with a fork until combined. Pour over salad and toss in nuts. Stir to combine and enjoy! This can be kept in the fridge for about 2-3 days. Otherwise, you can just prepare the salad and dressing separately and enjoy for over a week
Sources on the Health benefits of toasting seeds: