amy chaplin

celebrating the art of eating well

Tasty condiments

POSTED ON July 11, 2009


I have had a lot of requests for simple, quick meals and it’s got me thinking about how I eat at home on a daily basis. It’s definitely not complicated and time consuming but it is delicious and healthy. I think the key is to have good condiments on hand so you can turn simple whole grains and or beans into something tasty and beautiful really fast.

Some of my favorite such condiments are toasted seeds, like pumpkin, sunflower and black sesame seeds. I choose mostly black sesame seeds because the healing properties are stronger than the tan variety. They help strengthen the liver and kidneys, nourish the blood and act as a general tonic for the heart and lungs (the list of their beneficial properties goes on). See directions for toasting seeds below.


toasted pumpkin seeds

toasted pumpkin seeds

flax three ways

flax three ways

Flax oil and ground flax seeds are the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids, help strengthen immunity and have antioxidant and antiviral properties. Of all the omega rich oils, flax has the greatest number of clinical successes in the treatment of cancer, particularly colon and breast cancer.

Hemp seeds, one of the newer additions to my condiments list, are a great provider of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), which is beneficial in treating diabetes because it regulates the action of insulin in the body. They are also high in protein and help improve health of the skin.

companies I like

companies I like

In the picture above you’ll see my favorite Hawthorne Valley Farm kimchi and Real Pickles kraut, these provide a rich source of active cultures and enzymes necessary for good digestion and are packed with vitamin C. Sometimes I make my own and once I get my paws on a good locally grown cabbage, I will post the process.

I always keep parsley and scallions on hand; they add freshness and are great combined with toasted seeds especially in grain salads. I like making dressings with different combinations from the condiment list below. Then I steam (or eat raw) whatever is in season, at the moment it’s sugar snap peas, radishes and baby kale. Soon it will be sweet corn and cherry tomatoes and then steamed squash, root vegetables and hearty greens in the fall. The variety is endless!

Condiment list:

Pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, for snacking and sprinkling
Flax oil, drizzle over grains and for salad dressings
Flax seeds, ground on oatmeal and cereals, and in dressings
Hemp seeds, in salads and on grains
Tamari, a wheat-free soy sauce, use on grains and in dressings
Nori seaweed, cut and sprinkle over salads and grains
Brewers yeast, mix into dressings, nice with lemon, cayenne and flax oil
Gomasio, a toasted sesame salt, buy it pre-made or make your own
Lemons, just a squeeze with flax oil can make plain steamed veg delicious
Cayenne, use a pinch in dressings to add some zest and help cleanse your system.

Whole grains and beans are the perfect canvas on which to build great meals. Photos below are  a couple of this week’s dinners, both based on simple whole grains and a bean. You already know how to make quinoa and recipes for the millet pilaf and sweet brown rice are coming soon!

millet, pea shoots, kimchi and beet sesame salad

millet, pea shoots, kimchi and beet sesame salad

brown rice, sugar snaps, kraut, red beans and sunflower sprouts

brown rice, sugar snaps, kraut, red beans and black sesame

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread seeds out in a single layer. I do 3 or 4 cups at a time because I love to snack on them, do as many as you like but be aware that they may toast faster if there are less.
Toast for 8 minutes, stir and return to the oven for another 5 minutes. They will begin to pop and smell nice and toasty.
Allow to cool on the tray and then store in a jar in the fridge. They last about 3 months.
For a spicy treat, toss pumpkin seeds with lemon juice, cayenne pepper and sea salt, then toast.

Toasted sunflower seeds

Follow the same method as above but stir them at 5 minutes and check them at 10 minutes, return for another couple of minutes or until they are slightly browned and smell good. Allow to cool on the tray and store as above.

For a tasty addition try drizzling warm seeds with tamari, stir and cool.

Sesame seeds

I usually do sesame seeds in a heavy skillet, but they can be done in the oven, just stir them often.
Warm skillet over medium heat and add about a cup of sesame seeds. Stir or shake pan every minute until seeds begin to pop and smell fragrant, this takes about 5 or 6 minutes. Taste to see if they are ready, spread toasted seeds on a tray to cool. Store in a jar in the fridge.

POSTED IN Condiments, Gluten free

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  • nancy gardner says:

    I’m so happy to have discovered your site. Its informative, unusual and absolutely beautiful. Bravo! Can’t wait to toast some seeds. Thank you!

  • thecatskillkiwi says:

    Great looking condiments, will try these!

  • Sarah Stout says:

    Hi Amy,

    Can you explain why the toasting part is important, vs. raw seeds? Is brewers yeast different than nutritional yeast?

    Thanks for the consistent posts, very interesting and inspiring!

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi Sarah,
      Toasting really enhances the flavor of seeds, it is especially improtant to toast pumpkin seeds as they can carry E.coli on their surface. I think it helps make them more digestable too. Brewers yeast is a by product of beer making and nutritional yeast is grown on molassas. I always try to avoid sweetners in my savory food and was recomended the “Twin Labs” brand. Brewers yeast definatley isn’t as tasty as nutritional yeast and I find I can olny use a little in dressings or sprinkled over food.
      Hope this helps, thanks for writing,

  • Amber Hoover says:

    Hi, I’m getting excited about trying your seasonal cleanse. Thank you. This won’t happen until the end of our farmer’s market (& my garden) end though. I’m having too much fun with our local bounty. It’s short lived here in Wyoming where we’ve been getting frost since before the end of August. I put an old parachute over my garden every night and drag the more sensitive plants into the house.
    A question regarding something from your condiment list: is brewer’s yeast the same as nutritional yeast and what are it’s/their benefits?
    My diet is very similar to yours and I’ve been enjoying reading your blog.
    Thanks, amber

  • Lydia says:

    Hi Amy,
    I first heard of you on an ABC radio program I was listening to whilst driving back to Sydney from Melbourne, where I spent Christmas with my family. As soon as I arrived home, I immediately got online and purchased your latest cook book. I’m thrilled to have discovered you – your knowledge of food and love of cooking is inspirational. What I love about your style of cooking is that it’s clean, uncomplicated and delicious.
    I’m a personal trainer and my goal this year is to compete in the Masters II powerlifting competition scheduled in August. Your healthy recipes and food tips will play an important part in my training.
    Thank you.

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment Lydia! I’m so happy you’ve found my site and ordered my book, thank you!
      Wishing you all the best in your competition and please let me know how you go and what recipes become favorites.
      Happy kooking and best wishes from here!

      Amy x

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