Sow, Sow Good: Four Great Edible Seeds and How to Use Them

A crash course on popular, easy-to-source varieties.


Photograph by Scott M. Lacey

Edible seeds, the latest craze in power foods, are packed with nutrients and add appealing texture to salads, soups, smoothies, and…well, pretty much anything. We asked Kate Scarlata, a Boston-based dietitian and the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Well with IBS, for a crash course on four popular, easy-to-source varieties. Happy sprinkling.


Why It’s Great: Forget the sprouting pet in kitschy planters. Chock-full of omega-3s, chia seeds are also stocked with soluble fiber, a key component to heart and digestive-tract health and—with 10 grams of the stuff in just two tablespoons—to feeling full.

How to Use: Chia’s water-loving fibers expand when mixed with liquids, creating a gelatinous substance that blends in well with pudding or jam.


Why It’s Great: These magnesium-rich seeds pack a nutritional punch, with five grams of protein and two grams of fiber per two tablespoons. And don’t worry about that impending drug test: Even downing half a pound of seeds would barely show a trace of THC in your system.

How to Use: Hemp seeds have a nutty flavor and a texture reminiscent of finely chopped walnuts, making them a terrific addition to smoothies, breads, or baked sweet potatoes.


Why It’s Great: Flaxseed is loaded with omega-3s and fiber (there are four grams of fiber per two tablespoons) but also boasts lignans, phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory properties.

How to Use: The body can absorb flax better when it’s ground. Run the seeds through a coffee mill (or simply purchase in meal form), then sprinkle on your favorite yogurt or morning oats.


Why It’s Great: Don’t chuck the seeds when hollowing out the jack-o’-lantern—they’re an excellent source of magnesium and manganese, essential antioxidants that help regulate blood sugar.

How to Use: Crispy pumpkinseeds are a classic topping for leafy salads, but they also make great garnishes for soups or cottage cheese. Drizzle shelled seeds with olive oil, add a dash of salt, and roast them in the oven. Let cool, then store in an airtight container for snacking.