You may have heard of the wonderful ‘superfood’ chia seeds. Seeds seem to come in and out of fashion, with chia being hot on topic these days. It is not that they have suddenly been discovered, they have been around for a while, but only recently have they been shouted about in glossy magazines to catch your eye.
So what is so special about chia seeds then? Well, in terms of their nutrition content, they are high in protein and vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, very similar to all other seeds. Something that does make this seed stand out from others is that almost all of the fat contained in chia seeds is omega-3. Most seeds have a combination of omega-3 and omega-6, however as we get far too much omega-6 in our diets generally (from grains and meat etc), it is great to have a seed which balances out our omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Another seed containing high levels of omega-3 is linseed. Linseeds are very similar to chia seeds when comparing their nutritional content, and they both have the ability to absorb lots of water, therefore making foods thicker.
The gloopy water absorbing effects of chia seeds makes it look a bit like frog spawn when soaked, which looks pretty cool, but perhaps a bit too unusual for some people. If you blend 200ml oat milk / almond milk, and 50g berries and then soak 30g chia seeds in the mix overnight in the fridge, it tastes amazing. If you have a sweet tooth, you can stir in 1 tbsp. agave nectar before soaking. Serve with stewed mixed berries on top for a delicious breakfast or dessert.
One of the best uses of chia seeds has to be its ability to act like egg when cooking. Egg usually helps other ingredients to stick together when baking, but if you are vegan, or if you avoid eggs for any other reason, you don’t want to be left with a crumbling dry cake. If you add 1 tbsp. of ground chia seeds (use a coffee / spice grinder) with approx 6 tbsp. water, this gives the same effect as an egg in a cake, keeping it moist and holding together nicely.