Chia is an edible seed, belonging to the same family as mint, oregano and thyme, and comes from the desert plant Salvia Hispanica which is grown in Mexico.
The use of chia seeds go back to Mayan and Aztec cultures – “Chia” meaning strength, has a history of being used an energy booster within these cultures.
Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds (unlike flax or sesame seeds which need to be ground first).
- One of the most nutrient-dense foods on the market – consuming a handful of superfood chia seeds provides more nutritional value than eating several portions of vegetables and provides 10% of your daily protein requirements.
- Chia seeds absorb thirty times their weight in water, helping regulate body fluid levels and retain electrolytes. Also helping control your appetite, since they fill you up.
- High in fiber and nutritionally dense, they help you feel fuller faster.
- Just two tablespoons of chia seeds contains 10 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, more calcium than milk, more Omega-3s than salmon, three times more iron than spinach, twice the potassium content, seven times more vitamin C than oranges, and more antioxidants than blueberries. Impressive.
- Chia seeds are also wonderful for gluten-free, egg-free or vegan baking, since they make for an excellent binder or thickener. Just add the seeds to the liquid ingredients and allowed to sit until it forms a gel (this can take up to 20 minutes).
Putting them to use:
- When using as a binder or egg replacer, just substitute 1 tablespoon of chia seeds + 3 tablespoons of water per egg.
- For a recipe with texture, such as cookies, muffins or breads with nuts, seeds, etc., the whole seeds can be used.
- Ground chia works better for cakes, brownies, and less textured baked goods. Whole seed are easily ground into a powder using a coffee grinder, blender or mortar and pestle.
- Chia seed powder can be used as a thickener for puddings, soups and gravies in place of cornstarch or other thickening agents. Keep in mind it takes a minute or two for the powder to swell.
Sprouting chia seeds:
Sprouted chia seeds are a great addition to salads, however keep in mind you can’t use the usual tray or jar sprouters.
- Day 1: sprinkle a thin layer of seeds on the bottom of an non-lacquered terra cotta dish or plate.
- Put the terra cotta dish in a larger plate of water.
- Cover with another plate.
- Since terra cotta is porous, small amounts of water permeate it and provide the right amount of water enabling the Chia to sprout.
- Day 2: lightly mist or sprinkle the seeds with a little water.
- Day 3: the sprouts should be right to eat.