When I told my husband that I would be writing and broadcasting about chia this week with Bob’s Red Mill, he asked, “Is that like Chia Pets?” And I said, “Yes, Honey, it is very same.” At which point, he compared this to eating rabbit, because both are pets.
Yes, I am married to a bit of a jokester. For some reason, it’s worse in the morning.
But I digress.
In the past year, it seems that chia’s popularity as a superfood has really taken off the way quinoa did two or three years ago.
Chia seeds are from a flowering plant that is native to Mexico and Guatemala, and according to historical accounts, chia was highly revered by ancient Aztecs. This seed, which is very similar in size and texture to poppy seeds, did not debut in North America until about 20 years ago.
Aside from Chia Pet fame of a few years ago, Chia seed has really gained popularity because of its health benefits. The evidence, which is largely anecdotal, seems to boost energy (distance runners are really starting to get into using it), stabilizing blood sugar, and lowering cholesterol.
And while chia is part of the mint family, it does not taste anything like mint. In fact, it does not really have a distinctive flavour at all, making it very adaptable.
I have been playing around with chia a fair bit over the past few weeks, and have discovered these great ways to use it:
- Added to smoothies
- In frescas (a lovely recipe from Bob’s Red Mill is below)
- As a thickening agent in stews and stir-fries (instead of using corn starch)
- As a pudding (more to come on this in an upcoming post)
- As a natural thickener for jams
- In place of poppy seeds, on top of crackers, in salad dressings, and as part of a healthy gluten-free breading
When I first heard about this seed, I assumed that as a seed, it was pretty much to be used like poppy seeds, or just included in foods and drinks to boost the health factor, like ground flax seeds. Now I realize that the fun of this seed is the way it gels when added to liquid, much like tapioca.
I am also finding that one bag of Bob’s Red Mill Chia seed goes a long way, as I am typically using 1-2 tablespoons at a time.
Last week, Bob’s Red Mill launched the Grains of Discovery series, which focuses on nine ancient grains. This week, the focus is chia seed.
If you would like I know more about this amazing food, will be on a live Google Plus Hangout this coming Wednesday, September 11th at 8 pm EST with fellow bloggers who are very knowledgable about chia.
In the meantime, here is a great recipe for Lemon Chia Fresca, courtesy of Bob’s Red Mill.