Everything That You Need to Know About Chia Seeds

  • By JC's
  • September 18, 2019
  • In News

What Are Chia Seeds?

 

Chances are that you’ve seen chia seeds in a breakfast bowl at some point in your life. These tiny black seeds are small in size but add plenty of flavour and pack a punch when it comes to nutrients. Chia seeds are extracted from a desert plant known as Salvia hispanica and are a close relative to mint. Look out for both black and white varieties but be sure to stay away from the unripe brown ones. When it comes to taste, expect a slight, neutral flavour which can be easily added to a variety of dishes. Chia seeds have a rich history and are at the top of shopping lists the world over. Let’s find out why.

History

 

Humans have been eating chia seeds for a long time. In fact, historians believe that they may have been grown by the Aztecs and Mayans as far back as the 16th century. The importance of chia seeds to ancient civilisations is thought to have been great, with the crop being used a means of tribute to high ranking rulers. In some cases, chia seeds were even used as an offering to pay priests and similarly respected groups of elders. Today, commercial growing remains strong in parts of central America such as Mexico, Guatemala and Bolivia. This has also spread to include Australia and the southwestern United States.

Chia seed health benefits and nutrition

 

Despite their small stature, chia seeds can help you to grow big and strong. You’ll look amazing and feel great when you add a generous handful to your diet. Some of their health benefits include:

 

  • Increased antioxidants – chia seeds are full of helpful antioxidants that boost the body’s ability to fight the production of free radicals. Free radicals are harmful because they can cause a range of issues including cancer development and cell damage. Antioxidants can also reduce the impact of aging which is fantastic news for anyone looking to maintain a youthful glow for years to come.
  • Plenty of protein – the ancient Mayans had so much respect for chia that they even named a word after it, it was called ‘strength’. It’s no wonder then that these seeds are packed full of protein, which is great for muscle building, maintaining energy levels and keeping on top of general health. Looking to lose weight? Protein is the best nutrient to include in your diet to do just that.
  • More fibre – you’ll find a significant amount of fibre in chia seeds, enough to even rival that of the popular flax seeds. There are 10 grams of fibre in every ounce of chia seeds, which is good news for anyone looking to stay on top of their daily intake levels. Fibre is great for the body because it acts as a carbohydrate but doesn’t require insulin to be broken down and it doesn’t impact blood sugar levels. It will also benefit helpful bacteria in the intestines, which is a bonus for your gut.
  • High in omega-3 fatty acids – move the salmon aside and tuck into some chia seeds instead. Consumers can expect to enjoy a boost to their omega-3s and better health across the board. More specifically, you’ll be reducing your risk of heart disease too.

Ideal growing conditions

 

Growing chia plants to harvest seeds is quite simple with the proper information. Soil is one of the most important factors to consider before getting started. Chia requires light to medium clay or sandy soils for optimal results. The plant also thrives in hotter, more tropical climates. The seeds should be first sprinkled over soil and then pushed into the earth to ensure adequate coverage. It’s important that the seeds are watered at regular intervals to ensure a good yield.

 

How to use chia seeds

 

If you’ve ever wondered how chia seeds can be eaten, then you’ve come to the right place. Chia seeds are a versatile ingredient that taste great when eaten raw or cooked, depending on the recipe at hand. Try grinding into a paste, soaking overnight or baking as a garnish to crown gourmet creations. We like to think of chia seeds as being similar to poppy seeds, in that they can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. 

Expect a mild, nutty flavour that will delight the senses but be prepared for things to change, if you decide to cook them. When eaten raw, chia seeds have a crunchy and dense texture that can provide a brilliant contrast to soft, doughy treats such as bread rolls and loaves. When soaked, chia seeds will absorb liquid and acquire a gel form that is soft and watery, not unlike tapioca pearls. 

You can bring these tiny specks of wholesome goodness to life by adding them to things like bread batter, soups, salads, oatmeal, muffins, cakes, smoothies and healthy puddings. Feel free chop and change based on how you’re feeling and enjoy chia seeds in both their raw and cooked form.

Recipe ideas

 

You’ll find chia seeds in a wide variety of recipes because they are extremely versatile. They are commonly added to breakfast foods including muesli, porridge and yoghurt. Feel free to use chia seeds in puddings, cakes, milkshakes and much more. You can even sprinkle them over the top of salads for added texture. However you decide to use chia seeds, know that you will be benefiting from a world of health benefits that are sure to keep you in good stead.

 

Check out these two great recipe ideas below.

Chia seed pudding

 

If you’re looking to feed friends or family in a hurry, then this delicious chia seed pudding is the thing for you. It boasts a rich and creamy texture that will delight everyone at the dinner table. Just be sure to make plenty so everyone can get their fill!

 

You’ll need:

 

  •  ½ cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup coconut milk 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup 

The simple process

 

The beauty of this recipe is that it’s simple to make. 

To start, grab a mixing bowl and whisk together the chia seeds, coconut milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract.

Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours (preferably overnight). 

In the morning, serve in individual bowls or cups and top with dried or fresh fruit pieces to really impress. We recommend sliced peach or tasty berries in a range of colours. 

 

Chia seed oat crackers

 

There’s nothing like biting into a crunchy bicky and this tasty recipe definitely lives up to expectation. 

 

You’ll need:

 

How to bring it all together

 

Start by preheating your oven to 375°C.

Add oats, seeds and salt in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. 

Pour oil and maple syrup plus ¾ cup of water into a seperate bowl and mix well. 

Combine both mixtures into one bowl and stir well to create an even consistency. 

From there, form into little balls and place on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown (around 15-20 minutes). 

Allow to cool and then serve as you wish!

Interesting facts

 

  1. Chia seeds can be mixed with water and used as an alternative to eggs in vegan cooking.
  2. They can be eaten cooked or raw but should always be adequately soaked prior to eating.
  3. Chia seeds can absorb a large quantity of liquid. In fact, they can take on up to 9 times their weight in water.

Spreading the seed

 

Looking to top up on delicious and nutrient dense chia seeds? J.C.’s Quality Foods has got you covered. We supply customers with quality products that are loved far and wide. We are an Australian family owned company and have been in business since 1994. Get in touch with our team today for all things chia seeds and more.