How to Cook and Use Chia Seeds in Cooking

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Chia seeds are part of the mint family (though it’s hard to see the connection) and come from the Salvia hispanica plant which is native to parts of Mexico and Guatemala.  They are an ancient grain and were eaten by the Aztecs. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, packed with fibre and delivering protein, they are a healthy addition to a vegetarian diet (30g of chia seeds contains about 4 grammes of protein).

– Chia seeds soak up ten times their dry weight so if you use 10g of chia seeds you’ll need 100ml of liquid.

– Eat raw unsoaked chia seeds sprinkled on muesli or salads; grind the seeds first or buy them already ground so you extract more nutritional benefit if you are not soaking them first.

– Add a spoon or two of chia seeds to baked goods to add nutritional value – you may need to adjust the amount of liquid you use so check the recipe. You won’t notice a spoon in a pancake or brown bread mixture. It’s a good way of adding fibre. If you are adding chia seeds to a waffle mixture which is thicker, add a little more liquid.

– Soak chia seeds in milk or water overnight and watch the grains puff up like tadpoles and become gelatinous ready to turn into a pudding – they look a bit like semolina once they are soaked.

– Chia seeds contain a lot of fibre so they can be  hard on your stomach until you get used to them. Add a small amount to your diet and slowly increase the amount you use.

Chia seeds are not for everyone – you wouldn’t call them an everyday food for most families partly because they don’t taste of much and they are expensive – but they can be a new addition to the family diet if you are cooking for a vegan or vegetarian or for someone on a restricted diet and are looking for powerhouse foods to include in meals.

How to make Chia Seed Pudding

– Soak the chia seeds in milk for at least 5-6 hours or overnight until they become soft. You will need to use approximately 4 tablespoons of chia seeds to 250ml of liquid, water or liquid. Use any kind of milk, full-fat, low-fat, almond, coconut or soya milk.

– To make the chia pudding more interesting add flavourings to the liquid: a grinding of nutmeg, orange zest, finely chopped ginger or a few crushed cardamom seeds before adding the chia seeds.

CHIA PUDDING RECIPE VARIATIONS:
– To serve, top the soaked chia seeds with fresh mango slices and coconut shavings.

– Try fresh raspberries, a drizzle of honey and sprinkle on chopped pistachios or walnuts.

– Add golden sultanas and honey and fold through chopped nuts.

– Top the chia seed pudding with lemon, lime or orange zest.

– Line a glass with fruit: kiwi or pineapple slices or tinned apricot halves, spoon the chia seeds on top, pour in the liquid and leave to swell (see our photograph above). Before serving top with poached mixed berries (buy frozen fruit, it’s cheaper, more convenient and often fresher).

 

The clean eating fraternity have adopted chia seeds as a key ingredient because they are filling once they are soaked but nothing can make up the nutritional ground you lose when you stop eating a broad-based diet. Make sure that chia seeds are an addition to your diet, not a key part of it. Nothing beats an old-fashioned bowl of porridge for breakfast!

 

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