Ok, I’ll admit it. Chia seeds are not for everybody. Or at least not everyone dives head-over-heels into a chia-pudding or chia-filled drink as my son and I do. We love it, whether or not it’s good for you. It’s that gelling action of the seeds when soaked in liquid that appeals to us… while making the other half of the family run away screaming. Have you ever tried them? Well, it’s one of those things that you’ll either love or hate. But what are chia seeds exactly? Well, read on to find out. Come and cook with us!
Chia seeds have been slowly but surely making their way into the superfood segment of the natural food market with which claims that they are THE food that will lead us to eternal youth, super-human wisdom and provide the answer to all our nutrition prayers. But I don’t know if I’d take it that far. What I do know is that the chia plant comes from South America where the seeds are known for their nutritional bounty in terms of vegetarian Omega-3 fatty acids which are those good fats that we never seem to get enough of and which, when turned by our bodies into DHA, help our brains grow. In fact, the type of Omega-3 that chia seeds contain are called Alpha-Linoleic Acids (ALA). which are an essential fatty acid – meaning that your body does not create it on its own. Other foods that contain ALA and which we can all eat more of are flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts and some sea vegetables. But, chia seeds don’t only provide you with ALA; they are also rich in calcium, protein and fibre, making them a must for anybody who doesn’t eat dairy or fish.
What to do with those tiny little seeds? Well, for starters don’t spill them or else you’ll have a mess on your hand! The best way to integrate them into your daily meals is to sprinkle them onto your muesli, drop them into your smoothie, make a pudding or add them to your baked goods, adjusting for the fact that they absorb as much as ten times their weight in water over time. This makes them a great binder for a simple and raw fruit jam, such as strawberry, blueberry or raspberry, where you mix one cup of mashed-up fruit with one tablespoon of chia seeds and, if necessary, some water and a sweetener. Mix well together, transfer to a glass jar, cover it and let rest in the fridge for at least an hour or more. This gelling ability is also why I often put chia seeds in my gluten-free pancakes or muffins, as they act as a binder just like ground flax seeds do. But the all time favorite way to eat chia seeds is in a simple and delicious chia seed pudding.
Next time you’re in the store and see those little seeds calling out for you to take them home, follow suit and indulge yourself in a little South American gelling action! Come and cook with us!