Incorporating Chia Seeds Into Your Diet
This year the Salvia hispanica, or chia seed, is popping up everywhere. This superfood is worth all of the hype, even if it somehow possesses some people to randomly break out into song about pets.
The chia seed has many nutritional benefits. According to Dr. Andrew Weil,
Chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds. And it has another advantage over flax: chia is so rich in antioxidants that the seeds don’t deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid. And, unlike flax, they do not have to be ground to make their nutrients available to the body. Chia seeds also provide fiber (25 grams give you 6.9 grams of fiber) as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.
This is good news for me. One of my children has a neurological disorder that effects his speech and swallowing. I am constantly sneaking in added Omega-3 and any additional nutrients that cut back on his need for hard to chew and swallow vitamins.
Chia seeds have other benefits when looking for an egg or xanthan gum replacement in gluten-free/grain-free baking. Last year I started adding chia seeds into my shakes and noticed that the chia seed expands and forms a gel when wet. One day I was reading a gluten-free blog where someone warned about the safety of baking with xanthan gum. I wondered, “Is there really something to be warned about?”. After reading up on what exactly xanthan gum was (more on that here) I began to consider if the chia seed could be used in the same way that I had been using flax as a replacer. I’ve successfully used 1 tablespoon of chia mixed with 2 tablespoons of hot water to replace 1 egg and for recipes calling for xanthan gum I typically use equal parts chia to 2 parts hot water. I can’t verify that it works for every recipe but I’ve used it in gluten-free pancakes, biscuits, bread, muffins, pizza, and cookies.
Chia seeds can be thrown in some many recipes but I’ve created two that are a huge hit around here with both adults and kids.
RECIPE: ALLERGY-FRIENDLY & GLUTEN-FREE GRANOLA
3 cups rice cereal
1/4 cup flax seed
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup almond slivers
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2) Combine dry ingredients into a large bowl to make a dry mix.
3) Whisk together the wet ingredients in a medium sized bowl:
5) Pour mix onto sheet pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
6) Let the granola completely cool. Then add 1/2 cup craisins, raisins, or currants.
7) Store in airtight jar.
EDIBLE GIFT IDEA: Granola makes a great gift. Put a
bow on it and give it to someone you care about!
During the winter months I like to make my kids a frozen treat with organic frozen fruit. Along with gluten, dairy is a no-no in my house so I make my own frozen fruit popsicles with almond milk and, you guessed it, chia seeds.
RECIPE: FROZEN FRUIT POPSICLES
2 cups frozen fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mango, or blackberries
1 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1) Add all ingredients into food processor or blender until smooth.
2) Pour into popsicle molds and freeze or…..This mixture can also be served immediately as a nice sorbet!