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Quinn on Nutrition: Weeding out to grow good seeds

July 25, 2016

I’m almost too embarrassed to admit this. Since moving into a new house last winter, I’ve carefully tended a small garden to see what types of flowers the warm weather would coax from the ground. Last week, I realized everything had bloomed except one species that grew and grew with flowerless abandon. Yep, Google confirmed it. It’s a weed.

Like bad habits, weeds are plants that grow where they are not wanted. And they overpower the good plants we want to cultivate.

At first, I was frustrated with this mess in my garden. Then I realized I had a choice. I could do the hard work to get things back in shape. Or I could go have a glass of iced tea and fret about the fate of my poor plot. 

I made my decision. I took a swig of iced tea, put on my gloves and began my attack. I pulled and puttered and raked and dug. At times I got a bit overzealous and ripped out a flower along with a weed. And sometimes a weed was so entwined with a desirable plant that I had to sacrifice the good to get rid of the bad.

When the unwanted visitors were removed, I had room to plant meaningful seeds … those that my sister had given me from her garden. Now the more delicate blooms — freed from the aggression of their more powerful competitors — can begin to blossom. And I am better able to identify and pluck the weeds that pop up … before they get too big to handle.

Health habits are like that. Sometimes we don’t recognize the harmful ones until they have grown out of control. But with each positive choice — one stray weed at a time — we make room for habits that produce strong and vibrant lives.

And speaking of good seeds, some are edible and good to cultivate into our daily diets, according to a colorful article in the August 2016 issue of Food and Nutrition Magazine. Seeds contain vital nutrients for a plant’s reproduction; thus they provide essential protein and heart healthy fats plus minerals such as calcium, zinc, copper and magnesium. Here are a few:

—Poppy seeds: These tiny blue-black seeds add flavor, fiber and nutrition to breads and cereals. Calcium, iron, and protein — major nutrients missing from some diets — are all housed within these tiny seeds. 

—Sunflower seeds: These popular seeds are rich in vitamin E (an antioxidant nutrient) and folate — a B-vitamin known for its ability to prevent certain types of birth defects.

—Pepitas, by the way, are the seeds inside pumpkin hulls. And chia seeds come from a certain type of mint plant.

Add edible seeds to yogurt, cereals, soups and salads. And keep them cool (in the refrigerator or freezer if need be) in tightly covered containers away from sunlight to protect their delicate oils. It’s another good habit to sow. 

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