Until recently, my only knowledge of chia seeds came from those commercials about those silly pets. You smeared wet seeds on a clay planter, and chia grass grew.
Today, we know lots more about chia seeds. They are the new superfood, loaded with nutritional compounds that are known to be healthful. These crunchy, tiny seeds have lots of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and an amino acid called alpha-linolenic acid, which helps hair, skin and nails stay healthy and may help increase athletic endurance, energy and overall health.
Many people feel it is one of the most beneficial foods available and, as a result, it is becoming increasingly popular — especially among athletes, dieters, and those seeking healthier additions to their daily food plan.
Chia seeds were used by the Aztecs in many dishes, as far back as 3500 BCE. The most popular usage was a gruel of chia seeds which were roasted and ground into a flour, added to corn flour and mixed with water. After the gruel was used, leftovers were allowed to thicken and were then formed into loaves and roasted over an open fire. In addition, chia oil was used to heal skin irritations, to beautify and moisturize dry skin and as a base for Aztec body paints.
Chia seeds are non-GMO, gluten-free, and anti-allergenic, meaning there is no known allergy to chia. It is very versatile and can be used in anything from chia pudding to muffins, meat loaf, cakes, salads, and even for facials!
The seed has relatively little flavor on its own, but becomes nutty when roasted. The texture it crunchy, so it is a good ingredient to mix into homemade granola. You can simply sprinkle it on your cold or hot cereal and reap the benefits or make some delicious recipes using them in all forms. It is very filling and many people use the filling seed to help with weight loss.
You can add chia seeds to almost any dish in which crunch will be acceptable. The seeds do not lose their crunch, even in liquid.
Simple Chia Gel (Pareve)
This may sound a bit strange, but this powerful gel can be used in lots of recipes. Keeps in the fridge for two weeks.
1 cup cool water
2 Tbsp. (scant) chia seeds.
Mix the chia into the water and whisk briskly with a wire whisk for about 10 seconds. Let sit 3 to 4 minutes and whisk again. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes and whisk again. Cover and refrigerate. Use as needed within two weeks.
Chia French Toast (Pareve or Dairy)
6 to 8 thick slices of your favorite bread or challah
3 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt or milk or almond milk
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1-1/2 Tbsp. chia gel
Additional pure maple syrup for drizzling.
Place the bread on a tray to dry for several minutes. Whisk the eggs, yogurt, vanilla, maple syrup and chia gel together in a large bowl.
Heat a skillet and coat with cooking spray, butter, or margarine.
Soak the bread slices in the egg mixture coating both sides.
Cook the slices of French toast until golden brown, flip and repeat until golden on both sides. Serve with a drizzle of pure maple syrup. Makes 6 to 8 slices, or 3 to 4 servings.
Chia Seed Morning Blueberry Muffins (Dairy or Pareve)
1 stick butter or trans-fat-free pareve margarine
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 cups plus 2 tbsp. unbleached flour
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 to 3/4 cup blueberries or other fruit like chopped apples, or bananas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup grated carrot or zucchini
OPTIONAL TOPPING: 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 cups finely chopped walnuts or other nuts. Mix together.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cups and spray each cup with non-stick spray. Set aside.
Place the butter, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and yogurt and mix until smooth and blended.
In another bowl, mix the flour, chia seeds, baking soda, nuts and blueberries. Remove the mixing bowl from the stand and, using a fork, blend the dry ingredients into the wet ones just until blended. Do not over-mix. Add the carrots or zucchini, if using. Mix. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full and sprinkle with the cinnamon topping. Bake until golden, about 15 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly. Makes 12 muffins.
Chia Caesar Salad Dressing
This tastes like Caesar dressing with a bit of a crunch.
2 to 4 Romaine hearts, torn into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 to 2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. chia gel
3 to 4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Drop Tabasco sauce
2 tsp. Dijon style mustard
1 (scant) tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place the garlic, chia gel, cheese and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add the Tabasco, mustard and Worcestershire and pulse to blend. While the machine is running, pour the oil through the feed tube. Once emulsified, turn off the machine. Pour into a bowl and add salt and pepper and taste. Adjust lemon juice and other ingredients to taste. Toss some of the dressing with the romaine, add croutons, sprinkle with grated parmesan and serve. Cover and refrigerate remaining dressing. Use within one week. Makes about 1 cup.
Chia Chocolate Pudding (Pareve)
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/4 to 1/3 cup pure cocoa powder
2-1/2 cups coconut milk or almond milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup grated bittersweet chocolate
Place the cocoa and the chia seeds in a large bowl and mix well. Add the coconut milk or almond milk, the vanilla, maple syrup, and brown sugar and whisk thoroughly until completely blended. This may take 1 to 3 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Remove the bowl and whisk again until smooth. Add the grated chocolate, if desired, and, if you like divide into separate bowls. Refrigerate for another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with chocolate curls, whipped cream or mint leaves. Serves 2 to 4.