Tuesday, July 7, 2009

White Chia Seeds

I have had this bag of chia seeds in my pantry for a couple months. Things have hectic here and I couldn’t seem to find time to play around with these. Since I had not worked with these before I was starting at ground zero and I didn’t know what to expect.

If you are wondering why I bought them it is because “they are good for you”, which is what I always tell my husband. Specifically, chia seeds are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which we should all be eating more of these days since they are reported to help prevent and fight cancer.

I did a little research on the ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 of both chia seeds and flaxseeds. Chia seeds ratio for 28 grams was (4915:1620) and the same amount of flaxseeds was (6388:1655). The overall ratio (omega 3:6) was better for the flaxseeds, but chia seeds are still nutritionally impressive.

The nutrition information on the package I bought reflects the following for two tablespoons (15 grams):

Calories: 60g
Calories from fat: 45g

Total Fat: 5g
Saturated Fat: .5g
Sodium: 3mg
Total Carbohydrates: 6g
Fiber: 5g
Sugar: 0g
Protein: 3g

A quick online search revealed that chia seeds are used to add viscosity to raw foods. Sounds to me like a sauce or beverage is in order. Adding chia seeds to water and waiting 30 minutes leads to the formation of a gelatin like substance. Sounds like a good place to start my experiment.

I tossed 2 tablespoons of white chia seeds and ½ cup of water in my Vitamix and let it sit for 10 minutes to see what would happen. At the 10 minute mark the mixture was gelatinous. When I turned the blender over the mixture was almost solid and did not move. I gave it a little stir with a fork and waited another 10 minutes. After 10 minutes when I went back to stir the seeds with a fork and they had gelatinized again. Like any good cook of course I licked the fork. What do the chia seeds taste like? Well, they don’t taste like anything. They are more a texture than a flavor. The texture reminds me of the seeds in a tomato with the juice pocket around them, only smaller. The taste is so mild that there is no discernable taste. Experiment over, time for a beverage.

I added a peach to the blender with the gelled seeds and turned it on. Clearly I should have added water, it is so thick I was not certain it would pour. I started by adding a 1 cup of water and ended with 1-½ cups of water in the blender. The resulting juice is thin enough to drink but still thicker than pureed juice alone.

Bottom line, I will be adding these to my recipes from now on when I can. I love the fact that they are tasteless and don’t need to be ground up. I think these will be perfect in my almond milk panna cotta. I guess I need to make another batch on almond now so I can test that theory in the next few days.

Here is a link to a Q&A on the Prevention website about chia seeds that was written by Dr. Andrew Weil.

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