Chia seeds are the new quinoa. The new ingredient to wriggle its way into the mainstream after a few decades as the fibrous, whole-mealy staple of the granola belt. I know many of you out there are still trying to work out what to do with the damn things once you’ve bought a packet. And since I hate the idea of anyone buying a packet of anything and having it sit there going to waste, henceforth a wee list of clever applications….
I’ve written on why chia seeds are so healthy before if you want to catch up. They’re godsends when you’re quitting sugar. They help to control your appetite because they fill you up (with the addition of liquid they swell to 17 times their original size) and they’re a fabulous source of protein. They’re also full of nutrients – vitamins A, B, D, E, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium – which help with the detox hell that some can suffer.
But today it’s all about how to eat them. Wrap your laughing gear around these ideas:
1. Make my healthy cashewy chia pudding from the I Quit Sugar book (image above). I make mine in a jar and carry it to the office, or on planes when I’m travelling. It’s filling, can be made the night before and is spill-proof!
2. Use in place of an egg in recipes. Substitute 1 tablespoon of chia seeds (preferably finely ground) + 3 tablespoons of water per egg.
3. Thicken up soups or gravies. If you don’t want to use cornstarch or other thickening agents, add a teaspoon of chia seeds or chia bran at a time until you reach your desired thickness. Bear in mind it takes a minute or two for the seeds to swell and work their magic. Be paaaaaaaatient.
4. Sprout chia seeds to use in salads. These things are quite zesty…a bit like broccoli sprouts. Chia seeds are mucilaginous so you can’t use the usual tray or jar sprouters. Instead…
- Sprinkle a thin layer of seeds on the bottom of an unlaquered terra cotta dish or plate.
- Put the terra cotta dish in a larger plate of water.
- Cover with another plate.
- Small amounts of water permeate the terra cotta plate upon which the chia seeds sit, and provide exactly the right amount of water to sprout them.
- Day 2, lightly mist the seeds (or sprinkle) with water.
- Day 3, they should be right to eat.
5. Or try this easy tuna spread idea: Dump a small lunchtime can of tuna and springwater or brine in a bowl with about 1 tsp chia seeds, then use as you normally would on sandwiches or in salads.