Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Trying a new food: chia seeds

I. Love. Whole Foods. Seriously.

There are only a couple in the Indianapolis area, and they're not near my house, so I only get a chance to go once every month or two. With that kind of separation, the trip becomes a real treat. I've even submitted my zip code on the Whole Foods website in the hopes that they'll scope out this side of Indianapolis and decide that we truly, desperately need a store in this area.

But, until they reach that conclusion and start construction, I'll keep building my shopping list through the month and salivating as I stroll the aisles and dream about all the wonderful things I can make.

I made a trip last night and got something new: chia seeds. I've been reading about these wonder seeds on various blogs for months, and my nutritionist mentioned them once or twice, but I've never actually tried them. Their more common cousin (well, they're both seeds, so I'll consider them cousins), flax seeds, are a regular part of my breakfast regimen and are much easier to find in your standard grocery store.

The amazing Whole Foods came through for me and had a couple kinds to choose from. One in the baking section, by Bob's Red Mill, and a couple in the supplement section. I've bought several things from Bob's Red Mill and like the brand a lot -- and it was cheaper -- so I chose that one.

Even if you've never seen these or cooked with them, I'm betting you've seen them before, though used in a different way: in the classic holiday gift, the Chia Pet.

Yep, the Chia Pet's grow-green-hair seeds are the very same seeds that are creating a stir as one of the latest and greatest super foods. Who knew?

Chia seeds are a vegan's best friend, because they can be used as egg and other binding-substance substitutes in baking and other cooking. When they're soaked in liquid, the seeds take on a gelatinous quality. I actually picked a vegan recipe for my first test drive after dinner tonight -- Chia Seed Pudding.

Chia Seed Pudding
Serves 1

1/2 cup So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk (or your favorite milk or milk substitute)
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 pack Stevia
1 Tablespoon Almonds, chopped
1 oz Chia seeds, dry

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl (or measuring cup, as I did here). Let it sit for a few minutes, stir, sit some more, stir, and continue repeating that process for about 15 minutes -- no cooking involved. The chia seeds turn the mixture into a consistency that's almost like tapioca pudding.

I altered the recipe a little bit by leaving out the almonds, because I just wasn't in an almond mood (if there is such a thing).

The result? I wasn't thrilled.

I like tapioca pudding, so I liked the consistency and texture. But the flavor was just blah. I'm not sure if the almonds would have helped that, or if it just needs a little more oomph... I'm going to have to play with it. I tried adding some cocoa powder at the end, but by that time it had gelled enough that it was difficult to mix in -- so I think if you're going to dress it up, it needs to be early, when you first bring the ingredients together.

I ended up eating a few bites and tossing the rest, because without good flavor, I'd have just been eating it for the sake of eating it. I pulled out my trusty, reliable, favorite -- dark chocolate -- to satisfy my sweet tooth instead.

Have you tried chia seeds? What's your favorite way to use them?


  1. Mandy! I went ahead and got these ... I discovered I actually quite like the taste. :)

    I tried this recipe (well, tweaked), and though it was a little runny, not bad. 1/2 t cocoa powder, 1 T chopped walnuts, and plain almond milk. I also used 1 t powdered sugar (I don't use stevia) because it dissolves easier than regular sugar and I didn't want honey flavor ...

    Also - I've been eating a little piece of super flaxy-whole wheat & bran bread I've been making with a smidge of butter (which is dairy I still do) most mornings for a bit o' extra grain, and this morning sprinkled about 1 t (ish) of chia seeds into the melted butter/indentation (not much) and ate before it got gelly --- so.good. Like a sort of nutty spread on grainy toast.

  2. Glad you like them! I've been having flax on toast, but I haven't tried the chia that way. I'll have to try it, since you've recommended it. Good to know it works that way, as well!