Copyright © 2000 Sarah Phillips Sarah Phillips, Inc. All rights reserved.
NUTS and SEEDS — raw, toasted, puréed or ground into flour — add flavor, nutrition and texture to baking recipes.

Seeds are an excellent nutritional source, as are nuts. Their purpose is to provide the nutrition to support and create the birth of a new plant. We use seeds, such a pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, and safflower in a variety of ways. They make great cooking oils, can be eaten raw, and are used in salads, entrees, and seasonings. As with vegetable and nut oils, the only method that oils should be processed in are cold or expeller-processed.

ANISE SEEDS: (Pimpinnella anisum): (seeds) Most of the 'licorice' flavor in candy actually comes from anise. Licorice candy contains very little 'licorice'. Mexico is the world's largest producer of anise.

ANNATTO, ANNATTO SEEDS: Annatto is a tropical American tree whose seeds are used to produce a food coloring used in cheese, margarine, butter, rice and smoked fish. Annatto is widely used in Latin America and the Caribbean cuisines as both a coloring agent and for flavoring.   Central and South American Indians used the seeds to make a body paint, and as a lipstick. (also called achiote, and lipstick tree).

CARAWAY SEEDS: (whole) Intense, aromatic flavor. Curved, anise-like seed popular in German and Austrian cooking. Caraway is a member of the parsley family. Caraway seeds are not actually seeds, but the small ripe fruit of the caraway plant. The 'seeds' are used in cakes, cookies, breads, cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, condiments, meats, and kummel, a caraway flavored liqueur and aquavit.Caraway seed is also utilized in preparing some cheeses and liqueurs.

Caraway seeds have been found in lake dwellings in Switzerland dating back up to 8,000 years ago. The ancient Romans used the root as a vegetable.

Caraway seeds yield an essential oil that is used to flavor candy, mouthwash, toothpaste, soap and perfumes.

CARDAMOM SEEDS: (whole pod, seeds, ground). Pungent with slight menthol flavor. Used in Coffee, curry, custard, fruits, Scandinavian breads.

CHIA SEEDS: have natural gelling properties that make them a good substitute for gums in gluten-free recipes. Grinding or soaking in boiling water will enhance this quality. A 1-ounce serving of chia (salvia hispanica L) contains approximately 4.9 grams of omega 3 fatty acids. Comparatively, flaxseed, another good plant source of omega 3 fatty acids, supplies about 1.8 grams of omega 3 fatty acids in a 1-ounce serving. 
NOTE: For an egg substitute, place 1 tablespoon of chia seeds in a cup and add 3 tablespoons of water. Allow the mixture to sit for about 15 minutes. 1/4 cup of hydrated chia seeds equals approximately 1 egg.

COCONUT: They are the stones of the fruit and have a hard inner shell which includes coconut milk surrounded by a bright, white, crunchy flesh. In Thailand they are called a maprao. They are thought to be native to Indonesia or Malaysia, but they now grow freely in all the tropical regions of the world. They are used for coconut juice when young and coconut meat and cream when mature. Coconuts are green when young and brown with the hard inner nut when ripe.

Pick a coconut that is heavy for its size, and shake it -- you should hear liquid sloshing around. The more, the fresher it is. Don't select ones with damp or moldy eyes or cracked shells. Whole coconuts can be stored for 1 month at room temperature. Fresh coconut meat can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and frozen for up to 6 months, in an airtight container. However, fresh coconut juice must be refrigerated and used within 2 days. After opening, keep canned, packaged, or dried coconut in an airtight container. Canned or packaged coconut keeps 5 to 7 days, and dried coconut keeps 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

  • Coconut Meat - How to crack and grate. Comes fresh, canned or packaged. Fresh ones are at the peak of season from October to December and are available at the supermarket. Canned and packaged coconut is processed and sold shredded, flaked, and grated in sweetened and unsweetened forms.  It is measured for a recipe in a dry measuring cup.  When the coconut dries or ripens, this "meat" becomes hard and much of the oils become saturated. The dried coconut meat contains about 65 percent oil, mainly as saturated fat. Coconut has a little protein, about 10 percent, small amounts of the B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E. It has also has a little of many different types of minerals, with potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and iron being the most abundant. You can open a fresh coconut and shred your own. The canned and packaged coconut can be easily tinted, but fresh can be done, as well. It is fun to use tinted when making the Classic Coconut Layer Cake Recipe. Coconut can be lightly toasted to bring out the flavor.   
  • Desiccated Coconut - is simply coconut that is VERY finely ground. Usually you see flaked coconut in the market, but desiccated (also called macaroon coconut) is more of the texture of corn meal.  
  • Coconut cream - is coconut milk cooked down until it thickens, or grated coconut steeped in hot milk instead of water. It is also the rich, solid milk found at the top of a can of coconut milk. If a recipe calls for coconut cream, simply scoop out the top solid portion. Each 14-ounce can of coconut milk contains approximately 3 to 4 ounces of coconut cream.  
  • Coconut milk - the liquid in the coconut is erroneously called coconut milk. It is not the liquid inside a coconut, but the liquid produced when freshly shredded coconut is soaked in hot or scaled water or milk for a designated length of time and then strained. This milk has a sweet fragrance and gives body and flavor to dishes. It is usually available in cans. Coconut milk is classified as thick, thin, or Coconut cream. Thick coconut milk is the result of the first soaking and squeezing. If this milk is refrigerated it separates, and the top layer is the coconut cream. Thin coconut milk is what is produced when the coconut meat is steeped a second time and then strained. Canned coconut milk naturally separates. They top layer can be spooned of for recipes calling for cream, the bottom poured as thin milk, or just shake it up to get the most commonly called for thick coconut milk (if a recipe calls for coconut milk, vigorously shake the can to thoroughly mix). Once opened, coconut milk should be refrigerated where it will keep for a couple of days to a week; do not freeze. 

CORIANDER SEEDS: (whole, ground). Mildly fragrant, similar to a cross between lemon peel and sage. Used in curry powder, marinades, Mexican and Spanish dishes, pastries. We use coriander in our Indian Split Pea and Vegetable Soup Recipe.

FENNEL SEEDS: (whole, ground). Aromatic, sweet, anise like (resembles licorice). Used in breads.

FLAX SEEDS: are a rich plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and are high in fiber. They have natural gelling properties that make them a good substitute for gums in gluten-free recipes. The brown and yellow flax seeds grown for human consumption are both very similar in their nutritional composition, brown flax seeds have deep, nutty flavor while golden flax seeds are mild. Flax is available as an oil, whole seed or ground flax seed (also known as milled flax seed). Grinding ensures that all seeds are broken up, enabling the nutrients present to be absorbed by the body. Ground flax seed can be purchased in vacuum-sealed packages on store shelves or in plastic bags found in the refrigeration section. Whole flax seed can also be ground in a coffee grinder, food processor or blender to the consistency of finely ground coffee. You'll love our Flaxseed Molasses Bread Recipe.

Baking with Flax:
Add the liquid: When adding ground flax to a recipe extra liquid must be added (e.g., for every 3 tbsp. of flax add 1 tbsp. liquid).
Lower the heat: Baked goods containing ground flax have a chewier texture and tend to brown more rapidly so the temperature may need to be reduced
NOTE: Flax can be used as an egg replacer. To replace 1 egg, soak 1 tsp. of ground flax in 1/4 cup boiling water for 5 minutes. Cool before using. Works best in cookie and snack bar recipes.


HEMP SEEDS: They are a healthful food with an omega 3 profile very similar to flax seeds. They’re also similar in flavor to sunflower or flax seeds

LEGUMES: A legume (/ˈlɛɡjuːm/ or /ˌləˈɡjuːm/) is a plant in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae), or the fruit or seed of such a plant.  (Wikipedia, 9-9-2015, 10:47am) It is a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils — are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Aquafaba, an egg white substitute, is derived from cooked beans.

POPPY SEEDS: (whole). Poppy seeds have a slightly nutty aroma and taste, and their pleasing smoky blue-gray color(called Holland Blue) and mellow crunch, makes them popular in baking recipes. White poppy seeds are used in Indian cooking, and are less sweet than blue poppy. They add thickness, texture and flavor to sauces, and are often added to lentil and rice dishes.

Poppy seeds are found in the heads of the poppy plant, which is a native of Asia Minor. It was known to the ancient Greeks, and reached India and China by the eighth century. The main areas of cultivation are now in India, China, Asia Minor and the Balkans. Opium is one of the most valuable medicines available in the sap of the poppy plants and if properly administered, can serve as a very useful drug.

Poppy seeds are usually soaked in milk or oil or ground before using in a recipes and fillings. Soaking softens their tough outer coating, so that their unique flavoring compounds could be more easily released by baking temperatures. Grinding, or course, mechanically accomplishes the same process. HOW TO.

Be careful! Poppy seeds add plenty of calories and fat to a recipe. Two tablespoons have: 107 calories, 2 grams fat and 6 milligrams cholesterol. If you are concerned about it, my suggestion would be to use half of the amount called for in a recipe, except for fillings. (I don't bother to !!)

PUMPKIN SEEDS: They are a good source of protein and almost half of the seed is fat, mostly unsaturated (essential fatty acids). They are also a good source of iron and calcium. High in Omega-3 fatty acids. High concentrations of protein and zinc. Pumpkin seeds are usually eaten raw, roasted, or blended into a seed meal and used on other foods. Spicy pumpkin seeds add zip to brown rice, quinoa, and other grains and vegetables. Sprinkle on Mexican pizza. Mix with dried fruit as a snack. Check out the Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe.

SESAME SEEDS: (whole). Nutty, slightly sweet flavor, and high oil content-- over 55 percent. A tiny flat seed that come in various shades of red, brown and black, the most common is a pale ivory. The sesame seed is very versatile, enjoyed all over the world, especially in the Middle East. Sesame seeds can be eaten raw, dried, or roasted or cooked with all kinds of foods.  More than just a seasoning or garnish. Sprinkle on stir-fry dishes, cooked greens and noodle salads. Toss into simple rice, quinoa, and millet dishes. Use in baking breads, cookies, etc.

Sesame oil is a very good cooking oil, especially popular in the Oriental culture, where toasted and even hot-spiced sesame oil is used in cooking. Vitamin content in sesame seeds is minimal; minerals however are very abundant in sesame seeds. Zinc is high, as are calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium. Some recent research has indicated that sesame seeds may posses some antioxidant effect, although exactly why is not clearly known.

Sesame Tahini: Sesame seeds can be made into”seed butter" called tahini that is very nutritious. It is a creamy, subtly sweet purée of hulled sesame seeds. Contains no additives or preservatives. Essential ingredient in hummus, sandwich spreads, and sauces with miso, for vegetables and grains. Use as a dip for fruit such as bananas, apples, etc.

SUNFLOWER SEEDS: They have been used throughout history to enhance energy and as a medicine as well. American Indians and other herbalists have used sunflower seeds as a diuretic, for constipation, chest pain, or ulcers, to treat worms, and to improve eyesight. The high amount of oil in sunflower seeds is mostly polyunsaturated fats, with essential linoleic acid. Sunflower seeds are high in calories, with one half cup of seeds containing approximately 400 calories. They are about 25 percent protein, have good fiber content, the best of the seeds, and are richer in the B vitamins also. With their high potassium and low sodium and with zinc, iron, and calcium all at good levels, sunflower seeds are a very mineral-rich food. The vitamin D that gets stored in these sun-filled seeds helps the utilization of calcium. Copper, manganese, and phosphorus levels are also relatively high; they are lower in magnesium than in calcium, which is different from other seeds.

Sunflower seeds have many other uses besides as an oil or nutritious snack food. They can be sprinkled on salads, are used in baking breads and cookies, and can be baked in vegetable casseroles to add protein, flavor, and crunch. If sunflower seeds are soaked overnight, it makes them more digestible and alkaline-forming.


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