Monday, November 10, 2014

Dinner Diva: Sunflower seeds: they're not just for the birds

Do you have memories of sitting outside, sucking the salt off of sunflower seeds before crunching through to the meaty flesh and spitting out the black shells?

Little did we know back then that we were getting a boat load of nutrients out of these yummy little seeds, but we certainly were. Check out the list below and you'll see what I mean:

Cardiovascular benefits. Sunflower seeds are very high in Vitamin E. One quarter cup of sunflower seeds will give you more than 90% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that goes a long way towards preventing cardiovascular disease. This is because Vitamin E keeps free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol, and only when it's oxidized can cholesterol stick to blood vessel walls, leading to stroke, heart attack and blockages.

Anti-inflammatory agent. That Vitamin E also makes sunflower seeds an incredible anti-inflammatory, helping to reduce symptoms of arthritis, asthma and other diseases that cause inflammation in the body.

Cancer prevention. Sunflower seeds are high in selenium, which inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells in the body. That same quarter cup of sunflower seeds also gives us more than 30% of our daily recommended amount of selenium. Sunflower seeds can reduce the risk of bladder cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer.

Bone & skin health. Calcium is important for bone health, but so is magnesium and sunflower seeds are a good source of magnesium. That Vitamin E is also well known for being good for our skin and it can protect against UV damage.

Now how about that! All those great health benefits and delicious to boot!

Sunflower seeds are also pretty easy to incorporate into our diet. Add them to your salads (green salads and chicken/tuna/turkey salads), put them in your baked goods, scrambled eggs and even on sauteed vegetables. Or grab a handful as a mid-afternoon snack.

 Here's Today's TRICK:
If you can't find shelled sunflower seeds and you'd prefer not to shred the skin off your finger tips, there is an easier way to remove the shells.  Pop your sunflowers in a seed mill, then dump everything in some cold water. The shells will float to the top and you can skim them off with a slotted spoon!
Here's a TIP:
Sunflower seeds can go rancid because of their high fat content, so store them in the freezer.

And Your RECIPE:

Kandi's Favorite Chicken Salad
Serves 4

12 ounces cooked chicken breast meat, cut into strips
24 ounces Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup chopped mushrooms
3/4 cup diced red onion
1 1/2 cups broccoli sprouts
1 cup frozen petite green peas (slightly thawed)
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (see recipe below)

If you haven't already done so, cook and cool chicken. In a large serving bowl, toss together chicken strips and next 8 ingredients (lettuce through carrots); add almonds and sunflower seeds. Toss again and top with dressing to taste.

Per Serving: 277 Calories; 10g Fat; 29g Protein; 21g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 49mg Cholesterol; 124mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain (Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 2 1/2 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat. Points: 7

1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, pressed
1/3 cup olive oil
Pepper to taste

Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

Your Dinner Diva at your service on

Copyright (C) 2010 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.

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