Nutritional value of seeds. How to use chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds! Plus, when to introduce seeds to baby.
Seeds are tiny, but mighty when it comes to nutrition.
We also love that they can be used in just about anything, making them a great food for young kids and adults alike.
Here’s what some of our favorite seeds have to offer and how to present them to your babe.
Some of our favorite seeds include:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Pepitas (green pumpkin seeds that have had the hard white outer hull removed)
All of them are packed with nutrients, so we recommend trying to mix them up in your family’s diet as much as possible.
First, seeds are a great source of fiber. Fiber is a critical nutrient for digestive health and promoting bowel regularity, especially in little tummies with developing microbiomes. Getting enough fiber also reduces the risk for a number of chronic diseases, so it’s important to eat this nutrient all throughout the lifespan.
Seeds are also rich in healthy fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for eye and brain development, and getting enough of them is especially important during the first two years of life. During this time, the storage of omega-3s accumulates in the brain.
Additionally, seeds are full of vitamins and minerals. They’re particularly high in the B vitamins but also contain some iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese, vitamin E, and selenium.
Plus, seeds are an excellent plant-based protein. You’ll find at least 2-3 grams of protein per tablespoon!
When Can Babies Have Seeds?
Whole nuts, like peanuts and almonds, are a choking hazard for kids and should be avoided until age 5 – or made into thinned nut butters.
The safety of seeds, however, depends on how small they are and in what form they’re being offered.
For instance, we say that seeds are just fine for babies even as young as 6-9 months old as long as they’re finely ground. Chia, sesame, and hemp seeds are generally OK left whole and mixed into recipes.
When in doubt, we always recommend grinding seeds into a dry powder and mixing them into other foods for babies.
For larger seeds, like pepitas and sunflower seeds, you could even make your own seed butters at home – or make a nut and seed butter combination to spread on toast or serve with bananas.
How to Use Seeds
Seeds can be used in so many ways!
Here are some ways you can try adding them to your kids’ foods:
- Blended into smoothies
- Added to batters for muffins, cookies, breads, pancakes, and waffles
- Sprinkled on top of pasta dishes and casseroles
- Mixed into homemade granola or trail mix
- Used as a thickener to make pudding or chia jam
- As a topping for pancakes and waffles, yogurt, or cereal
- Stirred into oatmeal
- Sprinkled in top of avocado toast slices
How to Make Vegan “Eggs” From Seeds
One of the most common ways to use ground flax and chia seeds on a plant-based diet is as an egg substitute. Note that these vegan eggs only work for baked goods and to use as a thickening agent in things like jam and pudding – not for making scrambled eggs or similar breakfast dishes.
To make a vegan “egg”:
- 1 Tablespoon chia seeds OR ground flax seeds
- 2.5 Tablespoons water
- Gently mix together your 1 Tbsp of seeds with 2.5 Tbsp of water in a small dish.
- Allow your seed and water mixture to sit for 5 minutes. During this time, it will begin to thicken or gel.
- Once your mixture is set, it’s ready to use!
This recipe makes the equivalent of one egg. Adjust as needed for recipes calling for more.
Need some inspiration? Here are some of our favorite ways to incorporate seeds into our family’s meals:
Super Seedy Baked Oatmeal: This is a vegan baked oatmeal recipe that uses hemp seeds, flax seeds, and pepitas.
Triple Chocolate Granola Bars: Homemade granola bars with layers of oats, nuts, seeds, and chocolate! Topped with a dairy-free magic-shell chocolate topping. These bars are both gluten-free and vegan.
Super Seedy Granola: Made with rolled oats, sunflower seeds, chopped almonds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds, this granola is naturally sweetened with maple syrup and dried fruit.
Mango Chia Pudding: Mango is juicy, delicious, and pairs well with a homemade chia coconut milk pudding base. A super easy and healthy snack or dessert!
Chia Seed Lemon Pancakes: These pancakes are light, fluffy, and full of fresh flavor. Made with oat flour and chia “eggs” they’re vegan and gluten-free.
Chia Seed Jam: Chia seed jam is the easiest recipe ever — whip up this tasty, two-ingredient topping up in just two minutes! Plus, this version contains way less added sugar than many store-bought versions. A great alternative for babies and young kids.
Been wondering about the nutritional value of seeds for kids? They’re packed with protein, fiber, carbs, fat, and numerous vitamins and minerals. Introduce seeds to baby in safe ways as young as 6-9 months, and experiment with your favorite uses for how to use chia seeds and the rest!
Chime In: How does your family enjoy eating seeds? Share in the comments!
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