Read an Excerpt
As you read through the recipes in this book, you’ll see that it’s possible to incorporate chia into everything, and I mean everything—breakfast foods, soups, salads, cocktails, main dishes, desserts. The seeds also complement all epicurean traditions. I’ve had the good fortune to travel to many beautiful countries all over the world. I even lived in Hong Kong for a time and now reside about an hour from Mexico. This has given me a taste for the food of many cultures, and you’ll see that multiculturalism reflected in the book’s collection of varied dishes.
I lead a busy life and I’m sure you do, too, so these recipes are also designed to be quick and easy. There’s no special equipment required—using a blender and food processor is about as fancy as it gets—and the ingredients are easy to find. You shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time and money or slave over a stove to work nutritious, delicious food into your life, and with these dishes, you won’t have to.
My goal has always been to expand the community of chia aficionados. When you’re on to a good thing, why not share it? Now you can also be part of the chia love train. Use this book not only to treat yourself to food that tastes terrific and boosts your well-being but also to indulge and nourish your family and friends. They’ll thank you with every delectable, delightful bite.
Chia fundamentals: from choosing to using
Everything from sourcing and storing chia to working it into a dish is very, very simple—a snap. Here are the details.
For the most versatility, I recommend that you have both black and white chia seeds on hand. Most recipes call for using one color or the other, or give you a choice between the two, but consider it a suggestion. You should feel free to choose whichever shade you prefer or to even mix them if you like (there is no taste difference). Some recipes utilize milled chia, which combines well with flour and makes a good flour substitute itself, so have that in your pantry as well—or simply grind the whole seeds on your own as needed using a spice meal or clean coffee grinder.
There are a couple of other types of chia on the market as well. Chia oil is essentially concentrated omega-3s, though it comes to you without the seeds’ fiber and protein. The oil is mild tasting and is generally used in salad dressings and baking. Chia bran is a form of chia with the omega-3 fatty acids removed and the fiber and protein left intact. I don’t use either in this book or at home—I’m personally a fan of the whole chia seed with its complete package of nutrients—but if you’re interested in experimenting, it’s nice to know there are several chia options.
Chia is primarily a tropical or subtropical crop, so most of the seeds you’ll find on the market come from Mexico, Central and South America, or Australia. I love to buy locally, and generally do, but one of the foods I make an exception for is chia. What I’m firm on, though, is buying USDA certified organic chia. Chia isn’t a particularly pesticide-ridden product. Because of its antioxidants, it’s mostly resistant to pests if grown in its native lands, so many growers in Mexico and Central America don’t use pesticides. However, most of the nonorganic growers do use herbicides and synthetic fertilizers, and since I’ve found I’m sensitive to chemicals (and I believe Mother Earth is, too), I opt for certified organic. Organic chia can be slightly more expensive (although not always), but if it fits into your budget, look for the USDA organic seal on the package to know you’re getting the real thing. I think the benefits of organic are well worth any extra cost, and at Mamma Chia, it’s what we’ve chosen to sell ourselves: we offer USDA certified organic bagged chia, as well as certified organic chia beverages and snacks (www.mammachia.com).
Chia green superfood smoothie
This superfood cleanse-style smoothie makes a supersatisfying snack. The apple juice and grapes give it just the right amount of sweetness, while the ginger and lemon provide a nice kick. If you add in a small handful of raw almonds and enjoy the whole recipe for yourself, you’ve got the perfect meal replacement.
3⁄4 cup 100% pure apple juice (not from concentrate), at room temperature
1 tablespoon white chia seeds
1 cup firmly packed fresh baby spinach or baby kale
1 cup seedless green grapes, frozen
½ cup chopped, peeled or unpeeled, English cucumber
1 ⁄4 Hass avocado, peeled
1 ⁄4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 small lemon)
2 teaspoons peeled, grated fresh ginger
In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the apple juice and chia seeds and let stand for about 20 minutes. (Makes about 7⁄8 cup apple-chia gel.)
Place the apple-chia gel, spinach, grapes, cucumber, avocado, mint, lemon juice, and ginger in a blender. Cover and puree until smooth. Pour into two glasses and serve immediately.