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Aug 14, 2009 12:32 PM

Chia seeds?

What is this all about? I have looked on the web and have determined it is the same as flax (with the exception of more dietary fiber). Will you share with me what you know?

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  1. I usually buy flax seeds or flax meal (already ground flax seeds) because I never see chia seeds anywhere....but here's a link for some info' on it...seems like it is VERY good to eat so I would buy some if you can grind them up yourself...hemp seeds are very good also....

    1. I bet lgss or goodhealthgourmet will step in with some wisdom. I don't think they're at all related to flax; they just have similar strengths.

      Chia seeds gel really easily, so I'm seeing them in gluten-free recipes as a binder. I've been eating a chia based cereal (just chia seeds, some nuts and dried fruit) that is nice enough hot-- if a really wierd texture. Sort of, well, mucous-y and crunchy at the same time.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Vetter

        Vetter, I've read that ground flax seed mixed with warm water also makes an egg-like substitute! I think it was our own GHG who told me so! Maybe the chia seeds are even better.

        1. re: Val

          Val, you're right - that was me!

          and yes, chia seeds *are* an even better gelling agent. in fact, i started using chia instead of flax in my baked goods a while back, and i had to make slight modifications to the recipes to account for the difference in texture.

          though i still use flax on occasion, i tend to favor chia in a lot of applications. not only is the nutritional profile even better, the seeds are also digestible in their whole form, whereas with flax, you need to grind them first - our bodies can't break down whole flax seeds, so they pass through the system undigested and you miss out on the benefits of the lignans and fatty acids. chia also isn't as prone to rancidity as flax, so it keeps longer, and i don't even bother storing the whole seeds in the fridge.

          as Vetter said, the texture is a bit strange...but kinda cool :) in addition to eating them in hot cereal, i like to sprinkle the whole seeds into my yogurt, cottage cheese, etc...they add a poppyseed-like crunch, but with a milder nutty flavor. the only drawback is that i have to floss immediately after eating them because a few *always* get stuck in my teeth!

          good stuff.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet


            would you have any recipes, with the use of chia seeds, that you could offer? I'd love to see them at work!


            1. re: sjomansbiff

              I saw a great one yesterday at this raw food blog (you will have to scroll down for it) for a pudding that uses these seeds as the gelatinous/setting element. I would look for other raw recipes using Chia seeds if you are interested because they are big in that community.


              happy chowing!

              1. re: sjomansbiff

                I'm compiling more recipes daily, but I have about 6 good ones so far: and would love to get more if people have them!

        2. Chia seeds are from a species of Salvia (sage) that is native to the more arid western states.

          Native Americans used them as a concentrated source of protein in a sort of pemmican (energy bar)

          You can often find them in the cello-packaged spice displays in Hispanic groceries, or at a health food store in bulk.

          1. The original comment has been removed
            1. My mother-in-law has been eating them daily for about a year (generally mixed in yogurt). Her cardiologist wanted to know what she'd been doing because she had "very unusual" results: increase in good cholesterol and decrease in bad cholesterol. Apparently people generally may manage one or the other, but not both. I'm not in the habit of posting health testimonials on the internet, but that really made an impression on me. I'm wondering if I can incorporate the seeds into bread in a substantial way but not ready to start experimenting yet as I just started bread baking (the no-knead, 5 minutes a day way).

              5 Replies
              1. re: julesrules

                You definitely can add them to your bread. I believe the heat slightly degrades their nutritional profile, but they're still good stuff.

                My favorite salad bar keeps a shaker of them. They add an almost imperceptible crunch/chew factor and have a nice, subtle flavor.

                1. re: julesrules

                  jules, you an certainly add them to your bread recipe. in fact, they add a really nice slightly nutty flavor. but you may have to make slight adjustments to the wet ingredients because they tend to suck up moisture. oh, and just be aware that they have a tendency to get lodged in your teeth the way poppy seeds do!

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    ghg, I'd like to try them with my 100% whole wheat recipe, which is a pretty wet dough in the first place. What proportion of seeds do you like, and how much wetter do you make the dough?

                    1. re: dmd_kc

                      i was afraid you were going to ask me that :) there's no hard & fast rule - the seeds absorb about NINE times their weight in water! so it depends whether you're folding them straight/dry into the batter, or making a chia gel to combine with the wet ingredients, or grinding them up and incorporating into your flour. i sort of just figured out what worked for my recipes through trial & error after my first attempt, which was a disaster...i just decided on a whim to add a couple of Tbsp to a batch of muffins without adjusting anything, and my typically super-moist muffins came out so dry that they were completely inedible.

                      i'd suggest starting out slowly/conservatively - the safest route is to add them as a gel because you can control the moisture and see how they react before adding them to your dough. the standard ratio is 9:1 water:chia, so however much seed you want to use, combine it with 9 times the water by weight and let sit for 5-10 minutes. then you'll see the volume of gel you end up with so you can adjust your other wet ingredients accordingly. you can also sprinkle some seeds on top of the loaf just before baking - they won't affect the moisture of the bread too much.

                  2. re: julesrules

                    I find the easiest way to deal with them is to grind them in a small coffee grinder. Using the whole seeds kinda skeeves me a little, grinding them gives them a good texture when adding them to water or baked goods. After grinding them, I add them to flavored aloe juice to make a nice smoothie.

                    I made some excellent strawberry muffins with them and chocolate chip cookies too. After baking something with them, they actually absorb moisture from the air the longer they sit. After an hour or two, they're a little more moist than when they come right out of the oven.

                    You can even buy "Chia Flour" which is basically just ground chia seeds. It's worth it just to buy the seeds and a cheap coffee grinder. They have a pretty extensive list of recipes too (which is nice because they've already adjusted for the consistency of the seeds).

                    I've been trying to incorporate them into my diet for about 10 years now and I'm just now getting to the point where I use them often enough to see a difference (lots of energy without having to drink caffeine).

                    Good luck!