• Introducing Chia Seeds – from Gag Gift to Super Food

    by Dorothy Reinhold on May 10, 2013


    Print This Post Print This Post Chia seeds on Shockingly Delicious

    No, you are not in a time warp. This is not 1977, but chia seeds are big again.

    Some 36 years after the world was introduced to the Chia Pet®, which quickly catapulted to the pinnacle of white elephant Christmas gifts for many years in a row (possibly still!), chia has emerged again in our national consciousness. They’re everywhere.

    This time, we don’t just spread them on clay figurines and laugh at the “hair” as they sprout, we actually eat them. And we marvel at how good they are for us!

    Chia seeds float in all the new drinks, lounge on top of muffins, hide in cookies and snack foods, and adorn our yogurt parfaits. That’s right, they have gone from D-list to A-list, because man, do we adore a good nutritional trend. The N.Y. Times has weighed in, as has ABC News, Shape Magazine, Men’s Fitness, even Smithsonian Magazine.Hello Kitty Chia Pet

    What’s so great about chia seeds, aside from their natural ability to entertain us as “the pottery that grows?”

    Chia seeds are…

    • flavorless, so they takes on whatever flavors they are combined with
    • high in omega-3 fatty acids
    • high in antioxidants, protein and soluble fiber (the fiber keeps you feeling full)
    • crunchy like nuts (when not wet), so could be an alternative for those with nut allergies
    • sometimes used to add fluffiness in gluten-free breads or waffles
    • sometimes used to replace eggs in vegan products

    Chia Seeds on Shockingly DeliciousThe magic

    When you expose chia seeds to liquid, like water or fruit juices, the moisture releases a natural fibrous gel that is a bit like…well…mucus. It is downright mucilaginous! Let me try harder to explain it in less gross terms. Texturally, it’s like the seed pockets of the inside of a tomato. Or maybe it’s a bit like tapioca. Or like tiny little bobas. However, once you get used to it, the icky factor recedes and the cool factor dominates. You can see this in the photo above.

    Water absorption

    Chia seeds can hold 12- to 13-times their weight in water. I found that out by putting 1 tablespoon of seeds into a little container, and adding water 1 tablespoon at a time. At 4-6 tablespoons of water, the seeds gelled into almost a solid mass. At 12-13 tablespoons of water, the seeds separated, but their natural gel held them together in a fluid mass. It’s fascinating!

    White Chia Seeds from Melissa's Produce on Shockingly DeliciousThese seeds shown here are White Chia Seeds (suggested retail $5.49 for 5 ounces), grown in the U.S. and distributed by Melissa’s Produce. The white seeds are a bit rarer, so if you can’t find them, feel free to substitute regular chia, which are darker in color and will cost a bit less.

    Storage

    • Store the seeds in the refrigerator or freezer (much as you would flax seeds).
    • For ease of use, hydrate some seeds in water until they are fluid but still thick. Store this gel in the refrigerator and use a tablespoon full of it when you want to stir chia into a drink or your oatmeal. This way you won’t have to let the seeds sit in the drink for half an hour while they hydrate, because they will be pre-hydrated.

    5 quick things to do with chia seeds

    1. Hydrate them in water and stir into juice drinks
    2. Sprinkle onto yogurt or into granola or in pancake batter for some crunch
    3. Throw some in salad dressing as a thickener
    4. Homer Simpson Chia PetUse in your morning green juice or smoothie as a thickener
    5. Stir into oatmeal

    Melissa’s Produce sent the chia seeds for review.



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