Monday, June 22, 2009

Seeds & Beans: Flax, Sesame, Poppy, Kidney

A lot of people have been talking about beans and seeds lately. Whether it's to approach better health, consume higher protein or cut a food budget, there are things to know that will help make the most of your latest culinary acquisitions.


Most seeds must be ground first in order to make the nutrients bio-available. If you don't grind them, you will see that they come out the other end looking pretty much the same as they went into the top. (Oh c'mon... like you've never looked!)

I get lots of people asking how to use these things. Here are a few ideas along with some of my usual chemistry nonsense after that. Of course, I think the chemistry nonsense is the most important part!

1. bread
Note: Breads don't always have to be a yeast bread. Yeast is not good for some people.
They can be flat bread, like a focaccia, which can be frozen and used as a pizza base.

2. muffins

3. cereal sprinkles

4. snack bars

5. granola ingredient

6. yoghurt or custard topping

7. salad sprinkles

I'm still thinking... I'm sure I can come up with 100 if I try hard enough. ;)

As I always say though, rotation, rotation, rotation. This gives the body a break from getting 'build-ups' from eating the same foods all the time.

All foods contain toxins (theoretically, to prevent consumption to annihilation). Flax and other seeds are no exception.

As usual, I'm not really into denoting how great these foods are. Yes they are great!

It's just that all the information about how great they are is so prevalent in common health literature that we're all practically choking on it. I'm just trying to balance the information out there.

Flax seeds:

Flax contains cyanide.

But don't get all freaked out about it. Cyanide is used as a cancer preventative. Nonetheless, you still don't want to build up enormous amounts of it in your body. So give it a break and stick to rotating flax into your diet every three or four days.

Sesame seeds:

Great for calcium, magnesium and zinc. Seems like a good ingredient for non-dairy people who can tolerate them. However, there is some argument about the particular form of calcium (oxalate) actually becoming toxic if it builds up too much in the body. Is it true? I don't really know. However, most seeds seem to be very strong (in nutrients and therefore toxins), so I tend to treat them more like an herb or powdered herb, where less is generally more. ;) Again... rotation.

Poppy seeds:

Of course we all know what's in poppy seeds, right? Opiates.

Science currently says that poppy seeds will not skew blood results. Frankly though, I don't buy it . And I've seen science disprove itself enough that that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

As a person who loves lemon poppyseed muffins and ate them a few times a week, about 15 years ago, every morning, at work. I can tell you that I missed them when they were no longer available but did not seem to suffer from withdrawal.


Again, rotate and don't overdo it. When the opiate-related synapses in the brain get filled up with this kind of stuff, it makes us feel good. That's not always a bad thing. But it's not always a good thing either as it can develop into an addiction if not careful.

Dairy (casein molecules) and bread (gluten molecules) do the same thing (fill opiate spaces in our brains), which is theorized to be part of the difficulty for people to stay away from bread and dairy.

So, limit use, rotate and don't overdo it. (And don't make tea out of it because that's definitely overdoing it, can lead quickly to addiction and has been suggested to cause death in some who are tea addicts.)

Kidney Beans:

Yes, beans are seeds. ;)

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that this particular seed is a real pet peeve of mine and opened up a whole can of worms (or lectins) when I first studied them years ago. And yes, that can of worms (called lectins) are still sitting on my kitchen counter.

Nevertheless, a quick review for anyone new to my work...

If not cooked properly, 4 or 5 kidney beans can put you in the hospital in a matter of hours.

Our grandmothers knew this and knew how to cook them. However, with the advent of factory processed, canned goods, microwaves (don't even get me started), etcetera, we have lost important knowledge about how to harvest and cook our foods that are gifts from the earth.

The particular lectins in kidney beans are called Phytohaemagglutnin. No, you don't have to know how to say it. Lectins is a pretty general term but easier to say, so we'll stick to that.

Lectins are the part of a seed/bean that give it the energy it needs to produce a plant. From my understanding, once a seed becomes a plant the lectins have been used up.

Should you be afraid to eat them? No, of course not. Just prepare them properly and don't take any shortcuts.

So, with dried kidney beans, it's essential first to soak them for a day or two, changing the water fairly frequently. That water may contain lectins so pour it in the garden or somewhere else. Don't drink it.

Then all kidney beans MUST be BOILED for a fairly long time. I boil them for about 1/2 an hour. (Canned kidney beans have already been superheated in the factory during the canning process but should still be thoroughly rinsed as a precautionary measure.)

Crock pots are NOT ACCEPTABLE. Cooking them at low temperatures (like a crockpot) may actually intensify the toxic properties.

Even if you want to put them in a salad, you must cook them properly first and then chill them before adding them to the salad.

So, eat, be well, be smart.

Flax Seed Toxins

Cyanide and Cancer Prevention
Sesame Seeds - Calcium Oxalate
Great Claims about Sesame Oil
I don't know if the above-mentioned link is accurate but it sure made for a good read.
Some of it I buy... some of it I don't.
Poppy Seed Tea Can Kill You
Poppy Seed Addicts discussing how to kick the habit
Kidney Bean Toxins

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