Hola Chia Fresca !

There is no truer statement than ” You learn something new every day.”  Who knew that the Aztecs made chia seeds part of their daily diet? They even used it as currency at one point ( must have been before they discovered chocolate…) But just like the Aztecs, chia seeds soon faded from the Mexican diet with only  Chia Fresca, a very sweet gel like drink  similar to the  Filipino drink sago, a reminder of the chia seeds traditional past.

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting with Mariela Betanzos, a representative of Mexico here in Shanghai to promote the goodness of chia seeds.  It seems that Mexico has rediscovered its chia heritage and is now growing and exporting this super food to the world, and hopefully to China.

As Mariala and I were talking about the nutritional richness of chia seeds, I pointed out that often when I suggest people add chia seeds to their diet, the challenge is how to use the seeds besides the usual oatmeal and smoothies.  I did some sleuthing,  because I am strictly a chia and yogurt person, and it turns out there are plenty of ways to add this healthful gem to you diet.

Get your pencil ready because you are going to want to remember a few of these suggestions:

Add seeds to soup as thickener.

Stir into cooked brown rice.

Stir into cooked lentils.

Add to beaten eggs, soak for 10 minutes and then make an omelette.

Add ground seeds to pancake batter.

Add to muesli or granola.

Saute zucchini with toasted chia seeds.

Sprout the seeds and add to a salad.

Ground or whole seeds can be added to any nut butter spreads, cream cheese or jams.

Add ground seeds soaked in egg as a binder for hamburgers and fish cakes.

Add to any stuffing recipe.

Add to cake batter for a poppy seed like cake.

For cookies: substitute 1/4 to 1/2 half of the flour with milled chia seeds.

How about some traditional Chia Fresca for a hot Shanghai summer day? Traditional chia fresca is very sweet, with about 1.5 tablespoons of sugar per cup. The following recipe is quite refreshing and you can sweeten it yourself as desired.

Pour 1/2 cup ( 120 ml)  lemon  or lime juice and cranberry juice into 9 cups (2L) of water.

Add  1 tablespoon of chia seeds and stir or shake vigorously until the seeds are evenly dispersed.

Shake or stir again after a few minutes to prevent the seeds clumping together.  Shake or stir again before serving. Serve over ice. Garnish with mint leaves.

There is no excuse now to add this true super food into your diet. You can find chia seeds ( by the way, black and white seeds offer the same health benefits) online at Kate&Kimi  (www.kateandkimi.com) or off the shelf at Sprout Lifestyle.

Eat Well, Live Well,Have Fun!

*For more information on the nutritional benefits of chia seeds. Go to EWS blog post of 12/7/2012