I love the versatility of this seed so much that i decided to post about some of my favourite uses. As you can easily google the health benefits of chia, I won’t spend much time detailing its nutritional profile, but will say this – it’s another “super food”, loaded with healthy omega 3’s, calcium, manganese & phosphorus, as well as essential amino acids. You can count on chia as a brain food that gives you an energy boost, as well as keeping your bones & teeth healthy. Apart from just adding it to a lot of recipes & baking, I have a few favourite uses for chia that I would like to share with you.
ONE: As a thickener in recipes calling for things like corn starch or pectin. Jams, jellies, sauces and other dishes that need thickening or a little extra cohesion benefit from added or substituted chia. I personally don’t like using corn starch (because of its low digestibility) or pectin (because of the cost, and it being an extracted ingredient rather than a whole food). I haven’t figured out a super reliable substitution rate, but I would say a safe assumption to start with would be a sub of 2:1 of chia to starch or pectin. If you don’t want the minor seediness that comes with whole chia, you can grind it in a coffee grinder to get the thickening benefits without the seedy texture.
A recipe for quick chia jam:
Combine in a saucepan / small pot:
1 cup of (I use frozen) berries (blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, huckleberry – whatever you like, or a combination).
2 tbsp of chia seeds
Simmer until reduced (and thawed if frozen) for 5 minutes.
If you want a jam with uniform texture, use your hand blender to lightly puree the mixture while still in the pot. If you like it chunky, leave it! For the pureed jam, simmer for another 5 minutes or so after pureeing; for the chunkier jam, give it about 10 minutes on the stove (or longer) to soften up the lumps a bit. After your jam has finished simmering, stir in:
Approx 1 tbsp raw honey (to taste – however sweet you like it – the chia adds a mild sweetness as well).
You can use the jam warm, or transfer to a jar in the fridge. After some time in the fridge, it will thicken even further. And voila! A jam with added protein and omega 3, without the use of other thickening agents or sweeteners. This jam also freezes very nicely.
TWO: For a homemade hair gel. That’s right, I said it! Hair gel! Chia makes a wonderful plant based jelly when combined with any liquid. For a hair gel, you can combine:
1 cup of water with
2 tbsp of whole chia seeds
Simmer in a small pot for 5 minutes on low heat, stirring fairly constantly to separate lumps. Remove from heat and stir in:
2 tbsp aloe vera gel (food grade please)
– and let cool. Once cooled, get out a jar for storage and place fine meshed cheesecloth over top. Begin pouring mixture over the cheesecloth, and when enough accumulates on the top, squeeze the gel through the cloth into the jar – the leftover grit and seeds will stay in the cheesecloth. Continue until you have strained it all. If you have a very fine mesh strainer, this would work as well – but it needs to be very fine or you will get chunks in the gel.
Keep it in the fridge and use as needed – it will work like a “wet” hair gel. Both the chia and aloe are very conditioning for your hair, so it also makes a great dry hair treatment!
THREE: Chia fruit juice jelly: A really fun, refreshing light snack that is super easy is this chia seed jelly – a little like a slightly softer jello :). Combine in a jar:
1 cup of your favourite fruit juice (my favourite for this recipe is grape) with
2 tbsp of ground or whole chia seed (depending on the texture you would like).
Stir well until distributed evenly in the juice. Let sit on the counter for five minutes in the sealed jar. Give it a good shake or another stir, and place in the fridge for several hours (I let it sit overnight). It’s perfect for a hot summer day, especially to get some fun fluids and vitamins in your kidlets.
And there you have it! My favourite chia based recipes both for on your bod and in. Also check out my recipe for chia rice pudding HERE. A yummy gluten free breakfast! What are your favourite uses for chia?