You've probably heard of chia seeds. The little black seeds were once very popular as a novelty home decoration, because they quickly sprout when spread over a clay statue, and the green growth looks a lot like hair. In recent years, they've become much more popular in health food stores and even mainstream grocery stores. The tiny seeds have earned a big reputation as a superfood because of their high levels of fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, among other things. But how should you use the seeds in your own kitchen? Take a look at some fun ways that you can cook with them after you buy chia seeds.
As an Egg Substitute
Want to make a vegan casserole for a guest that doesn't eat meat, or just sneak some extra nutrients into your family's baked goods? You can do it by substituting chia seeds for eggs in a variety of recipes. It's easier than you may think to substitute seeds for egg white and yolk, because when submerged in liquid, chia seeds become gelatinous. With the right ratio of water to seeds, you can approximate the thickness and consistency of eggs.
To make the egg substitute, start with one tablespoon of seeds. Grind the seeds into meal using a food processor, mortar and pestle, or a spice grinder. Mix the meal with three tablespoons of water, and allow the mix to sit for about five minutes, until it reaches an egg-like consistency. If you want to pre-grind a larger amount of chia seeds for easy availability, store the meal in an airtight container in your freezer. This will prevent the chia meal from spoiling.
Want a cool treat for hot days that's also good for you? Chia popsicles are fun, tasty, and easy to make. Combine chia seeds, orange juice, water, and chunks of frozen pineapple and mango in a blender, and liquefy.
You could drink the resulting concoction as a smoothie, and you may want to make some extra so that you can do that and make your popsicles. Pour the liquefied fruit and chia seed mixture into popsicle molds, or pour them into ice cube trays and use the frozen cubes to give your beverages a healthy splash of flavor.
Chocolate Chia Ice Cream
Another fun option, if you have an ice cream churn, is to make your own chocolate-flavored chia ice cream. This is a great "undercover" healthy snack for kids, and it may also appeal to anyone who doesn't like the texture of the chia puddings and gel-like juice drinks that are popular right now.
To make chocolate chia ice cream, combine one-fourth of a cup of chia seeds with one and two-thirds cups of milk, two tablespoons coco powder, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and an ounce of melted unsweetened chocolate in a jug. Blend the ingredients, then stir in four pitted medjool dates and chill the mixture overnight.
Once it's cold, pour it into a blender and blend until the consistency is very smooth. Then it's ready for the ice cream churn – just follow the directions from the churn manufacturer. Once you're finished churning, put the ice cream in a container with a tight lid and freeze it until it's ready to scoop into your bowl. It takes a little time, but this recipe is easy to follow and will result in a great-tasting chia based snack.
Because chia seeds don't have much flavor of their own, it's easy to work them into a variety of recipes for a healthy boost, and the thickening properties they have when added to liquid only increase the possibilities. If you're looking for an easy way to add nutrients to your recipes, you should consider adding chia seeds to your list of kitchen staples.