I like my mid-winter meals fast, warm and healthy. (Meaning less time in the cold kitchen and more time snuggled under a blanket!) I also crave texture – crunch and subtle complexity to draw me out of the dreary winter mindset and into the stimulating bowl in front of me.
These three seed toppings take winter meals to a whole new level of wellness.
1. Toasted pumpkin seeds
In summer, liberally scattering raw pumpkin seeds on your salads seems obvious. But in winter, you’d be surprised by what a huge difference it makes to give those pumpkin seeds a quick toast in a pan without even a drop of oil.
They add a wonderful earthy crunch to quick meals like roast tomato soup, pasta with tomato and pesto, and toasted sourdough with smashed avo, turmeric and ginger.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with heart-healthy nutrients like magnesium, zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids that keep blood pressure down.
2. Soya flash-fried sunflower seeds
This tip will change your life (it’s a bold claim, I know!). Toast the sunflower seeds the same way you would pumpkin seeds and then, just when they turn golden, add a splash of soya or tamari sauce.
For a serious umami texture bomb, add to easy winter meals like broccoli soup, kale stir fries, and a cucumber, celery and avocado salad (great for when you feel like you’ve had your fill of rich, cheesy meals).
Sesame seeds add vitamin B, calcium and fibre to your meals. Toasting them allows even more nutrients to be unlocked, as the plant proteins available in sesame seeds are easier to digest when they’re toasted. (Digestion inhibits oxalates and phytates being broken down.)
3. Mustard seeds in chilli butter
Melt about a tablespoon of butter, add some chopped chilli or dry chilli flakes, then add a tablespoon of mustard seeds. Remove it from the heat as soon as the mixture turns a caramel shade. DO NOT leave the stove – this will only take 20 seconds. Any longer and the mustard seeds will become burnt black specks.
This brings a nice fiery munch to toasted sourdough with tahini, baked potatoes with cottage cheese, and cauliflower soup. Your body will also thank you for it: mustard seeds are rich in selenium, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Cumin seeds are another favourite that I add to nearly any rice dish for a hearty dose of subtle spice. Plus they boost the metabolism, and who doesn’t need that in winter?
Think of these seed toppings as the winter-food equivalent of crunching branches underfoot or crackling wood-burning fires – texture therapy right from your pantry.