Chia seeds, made famous in popular culture by the oddly enduring Chia Pet, are actually highly nutritious seeds that have been a staple of Native American cuisine for thousands of years. When consumed, chia seeds slow the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar, prolonging energy and endurance (Resource 1). In addition, chia seeds are a good source of antioxidants, calcium, fibre, protein, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (Resources 1 and 2). Incorporating these little seeds into your diet is healthy, smart and simple.
Make basic chia gel. Combine 1/3 cup chia seeds to every 2 cups distilled water in an airtight container. Shake vigorously to combine, allow to set for 90 seconds, then shake again. Store your chia gel in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. You can incorporate this tasteless gel into any liquid or semi-liquid food such as pudding, salad dressing, soup, jam, yoghurt, cereal or dip.
Sprinkle them. Shake out 1 or 2 tbsp of dry chia seeds on your salad, yoghurt, cold cereal, oatmeal, soup or fruit cup.
Drink them. Using a coffee grinder, pulverise 1 or 2 tbsp of dry chia seeds into a powder-like consistency. Add the ground chia seeds to your morning juice, coffee or tea for an energising start to your day.
Blend them into a smoothie. Grind 2 tbsp dry chia seeds in a coffee grinder. In a blender, combine the ground chia seeds with 2 cups of kefir or skim milk and blend on medium speed for 10 to 15 seconds. Add approximately 2 cups of the fruit or fruits of your choice, blend well on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds or until thick and creamy. If you need to thicken your smoothie, add more fruit or a little yoghurt.
Bake them into your cakes, cookies, muffins, breads and brownies. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dry chia seeds to your homemade baked goods. Grinding the seeds is optional. If you enjoy a bit of extra "crunch," add whole seeds, but if you want to blend the seeds discretely into your recipe, pulverise them in a coffee grinder before adding them.
Stir-fry them. In a large skillet, saut� 1/8 cup each olive and sesame oil with 1/2 cup chopped onion, 4 cloves minced garlic and 1 tbsp minced ginger root. Add 3 tbsp tamari and 3/4 cup distilled water, and saut� for another three to four minutes. Add 1/4 cup dry chia seeds and 4 to 6 cups of the vegetables of your choice. Salt to taste. Saut�, cover and simmer for eight to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Experiment with your recipes. Chia seeds, whether dry, ground or in gel form, are so small and easy to use that the possibilities are virtually endless.