Most people have heard of Chia, but not in the context of a “super food”. You may have even purchased one of those pottery “pets” that you spread with seeds and then watch it grow into a “hairy” green creature. If you remember what a “Chia Pet” was, you know what Salvia Hispanica is. For those who are not familiar, Salvia Hispanica is actually a member of the mint family, and therefore related to popular dried herbs and organic spices such as spearmint, peppermint, oregano, basil and marjoram. It goes back centuries to Incan, Mayan, and Aztec cultures, for which Chia was a staple, along with more familiar foods such as corn and beans. So it’s a revival of a tradition that pre-dates the arrival of the Conquistadores and other Europeans to the New World. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Chia seeds is that they are the food of Mesoamerican civilizations. Like many super foods (including maca, quinoa and amaranth), the warriors munched on Chia seeds to sustain them for long periods of time and used it medicinally.
Chia seeds come in two colors. There are black seeds and there are white seeds. Black seeds are far more common, making up 6 out of every 7 Chia seeds. Contrary to popular belief, black Chia seeds and white Chia seeds are nutritionally identical, though some recent studies indicate that white Chia seeds (also called Salba) might contain a slightly higher level of antioxidants. Chia Seeds are rich in protein, carbohydrates, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and dietary fiber, making it one of the most nutrient dense foods in nature. My favorite brand is Salba, it’s superior to common Chia seeds. Salba is gluten-free and makes an excellent substitute for flour (1 part ground salba replaces 3 parts flour). It can be used as an effective thickener for gravy, soups, or sauces and can replace eggs in any recipe. The “new” white seed is produced in Peru’s pristine Amazon Basin, is non-GMO, and is farmed without use of chemicals or pesticides. If you want to know more about Salvia Hispanica L., I recommend a book called Chia: Rediscovering a Forgotten Crop of the Aztecs. Good book, very informative. So, if you are looking for healthy recipes, try these two easy Ch-Ch-Chia recipes!! Happy Cooking!
2 Tbsps Chia seeds
3/4 cup of liquid
about 1 Tbsp agave syrup or raw honey, optional
1/2 tsp vanilla extract, optional
pinch sea salt, optional
Combine the chia seeds and liquid together in a covered container such as a 14-ounce Working Glass with tight fitting plastic lid. Sweeten to taste with Agave syrup or raw honey, about 1 tablespoon should do it. Stir and let sit on the counter for 10 minutes. Stir again, cover and place in lunch box or refrigerator. The pudding will thicken and be ready to eat in a couple of hours.
2 large green pads of nopales cactus (beavertail-like paddles)
1 large cucumber, peeled
½ cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds), soaked 4-6 hours, rinsed
2 stalks celery
2 cups coconut water or filtered water
Remove any spines on the cactus, and peel the skin off. Blend above ingredients until smooth and strain liquid through a nut milk bag or press through a fine strainer.
Transfer the liquid to the blender and blend in:
1 small bunch dill or cilantro
1 avocado or soft meat from 1 coconut
1 scoop Mila chia seed
1 tsp honey or 1 pitted date (optional)
Serve and garnish with sprigs of dill or cilantro and pepitas.