Food spotlight: chia seeds
These seeds are cultivated from the plant, Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. Chia plants are native to Southern Mexico and Guatamala and there is evidence that they were grown as crops by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times. Chia seeds are well known for their use in the novelty gift, the Chia Pet, which was made popular in the early 1980′s (and apparently is still being sold today). Today, chia seeds are eaten for their nutritional benefits.
Chia seeds are high in fibre, omega-3′s and are a source of protein and calcium. They are also gluten-free.
|Nutrient||Nutrient per 2 tbsp (20 g)|
|Calcium (mg)||132 (13% DV)|
DV= recommended daily value
How to use them:
Chia egg replacer:
When soaked in a liquid, chia seeds create a gel. For this reason, chia seeds can be used to replace eggs in baking. To replace one egg, soak 1 tbsp chia seeds in 3 tbsp of water and let sit 10 minutes (or grind the chia seeds for an instant gel). I used chia instead of eggs in these carrot spelt and whole wheat berry muffins.
Chia gel or pudding:
The gelling property of chia seeds makes for a pudding-like texture in desserts. Mix 2-3 tbsp of chia seeds in 1 cup of juice or sweetened milk and let sit 10 minutes (to form a gel). Try blending chia seeds with banana and almond milk to make a chia pudding or mix them with toasted buckwheat groats and dried fruit for a nutritious breakfast cereal.
Just like in the Chia Pet, chia seeds can be sprouted. Use them in the same manner as alfalfa sprouts; add chia sprouts to salads, sandwiches and smoothies. If you would like to try this, here are instructions for sprouting seeds in a jar.
Where to find them:
Chia seeds can be found in natural food stores and some grocery stores. They can be expensive, so shop around and look for sales. Often, chia seeds sell for about $20 per pound, however, one pound of chia seeds should last a long time. Sometimes Costco carries organic chia seeds ($10/kg).