So, in my neck of the woods, the summer holidays are trickling to a close. There is only one week until school starts, which means that five weeks have somehow already gone past. How can that be? My experiment of choosing to study a semester 3 study load over the summer has been successful, I think – at any rate I have not fallen into my normal summer lethargy and pointlessness, which is what tends to happen when I am without a project for too long :). I know, I am a little unusual, but a person can have too much of a good thing! I have also been working on my large writing project, with a completed first draft only weeks away…
I suppose that it was fortunate that I had all of these ‘at home’ projects to keep me busy, as my son has been keeping us at home because of a persistent cough – poor fella. Luckily we were super busy for the first two weeks of the holidays, because the last three have been very quiet. I have noticed that when my otherwise healthy son gets laid out with an illness, it’s usually because there are some major changes happening inside of him – and when he recovers he is somehow different – more grown up, more developed cognitively and emotionally. Have you ever noticed that about your children?
So, as promised, this week I have been investigating chia seeds – what are they and why would you bother eating them?
Chia seeds were used by the Aztecs to feed their priests and their warriors as long ago as 3500 BCE, and were grown and traded extensively in the center of Mexico for hundreds of years. ‘Chia’ comes from the Aztec word ‘chian’, which means oily – and in fact chia seeds have the highest omega 3 oil content out of any seed or grain in the world. When the Spanish invaded this area, they destroyed the native people’s high value crops, specifically quinoa and chia. Chia virtually disappeared until the 1980’s and 1990’s when the Americans started looking around for new crops to grow.
They are a sturdy little seed which keep for a long time because of their high antioxidant levels, which also protect its tidy little store of omega 3 fats. It has some interesting properties, not the least its ability to absorb water to become a thick, jelly like substance, a high fibre content and a very useful store of calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. I guess they can be compared in many ways to flaxseeds – except that unlike flaxseeds, you don’t have to grind them to access their nutritional goodness, and they are a much more stable source of (plant) omega 3 oils than flaxseeds because of their high antioxidant levels. They are also soothing and cleansing for the digestive system, although like all high fibre foods, you must make sure to drink enough water when you include them in your diet.
On a side note, Australia is one of the largest producers of chia seeds in the world – they are grown in the Western Australia Ord Valley by The Chia Co. Chia is a very fussy little plant – it can only be grown between 15-25 degrees north and south of the equator, and the Ord Valley fits into that criteria. Food is so interesting you know, when you start digging around!
So, in the interests of playing around with my food, adding new things in and trying new recipes, chia seeds seemed like an easy, fun choice. And they were. I have used them in smoothies, pancakes, biscuits and there is also an interesting little breakfast pudding that I want to try as well! I particularly like them in a lunch time smoothie, because they fill me up. Normally I don’t find smoothies a particularly satisfying meal replacement, but when I add a tablespoon of chia seeds and another of coconut oil, I am full for hours.
It’s school holidays, and the kids love it when I make pancakes for them. I have always used pancakes as a base to squeeze in all kinds of different flours and other goodies, and it doesn’t seem to matter what I put in them, they eat them up with gusto. Here is my most recent experimental pancake recipe:
1 1/2 cups of SR flour (I use Spelt flour)
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
2 tablespoons of yogurt (dairy or coconut)
2 free range eggs
About 2 cups of milk (I use almond milk) or until desired consistency is reached.
Add dry ingredients to a four cup jug, then add the wet ingredients. Mix well. Melt butter in the frypan (the frypan is hot when the butter stops sizzling) and pour in desired amount of batter. Flip when the top side of the pancake bubbles and serve hot with your favourite toppings.
Have you played around with Chia seeds? How do you like to use them?