Tag Archives: seeds

All About Chia

21 Sep

Chia Seeds

Salvia hispanica, most commonly referred to as chia, is an annual flowering plant that belongs to the mint family. Chia is likely best known for its use in chia pets, where, upon watering, their sprouts grow to resemble animal hair. Having gained popularity in the 1980’s, chia pet products have since expanded to include a plethora of other “pets” such as people and, yes, even zombies.

The word “chia” is said to have been derived from chian, which translates to oily; fitting because the seeds contain at least 25% extractable oil. The chia plant is native to Guatemala and Mexico and can grow to upwards of 3 feet. The most commonly used part of the plant is its seed, which has recently gained popularity due to the seed’s richness in nutrients such as manganese, Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, and phosphorus. These black and white ovular seeds, typically no larger than .039 inches in size, may be tiny but they are nutritional powerhouses (source).

Having five times the amount of calcium and protein than milk (source), at least two times the fiber than nuts (source), more potassium than a banana (source), more than two times the iron than spinach (source), more protein than an egg (source), more than 25 times the iron, seven times the omega 3 and more than eight times the omega 6 than salmon (source), it’s no wonder chia seeds have become so popular as a food source.

1 oz of chia seeds provides the following recommended daily values (source):

  • 13% total fat
  • 3% potassium
  • 4% total carbohydrates
  • 40% dietary fiber
  • 9% protein
  • 17% calcium
  • 12% iron
  • 23% magnesium

Chia seeds are easily incorporated into your diet, whether it be via smoothies, oatmeal, salad dressings or baked into bread. When placed in liquid, chia seeds develop a gelatinous coating which makes them an excellent egg replacer and thickener, perfect for pudding. Chia seeds can also be sprouted for use in salads, sandwiches and wraps.

What is your favorite way of incorporating chia into your diet?


Jeera Rice

23 Sep

Here in Chicago we have an awesome authentic Indian restaurant called Gaylord Fine Indian Cuisine; and one of my favorite things to eat there is the Jeera Rice, a popular North Indian dish. Jeera, Hindi for “cumin seeds” (source) is used to describe this dish as it is prepared with cumin seeds. Traditionally cooked with a blend of spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and cumin, Jeera rice is easy to prepare, and is delicious on its own, but even more so when eaten alongside curry or another sauce-heavy dish.

They key to making this rice is to rinse your rice before cooking (especially if you use brown basmati), which helps remove excess starch, and to fry it before boiling, which helps improve the texture, in addition to adding another dimension of flavor.

Jeera Rice

Jeera Rice
Yields 4 cups

2 cups white basmati rice
2 tablespoons vegan buttery spread
2 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 brown whole cardamom
4 cups water
3/4 – 1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

Place rice in a sieve or strainer and rinse until water runs clear. Set aside.

In a medium-large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add cloves, coriander, cumin, cardamom and rice. Cook, stirring often, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add water and salt to taste, and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes before removing lid. Sprinkle with turmeric, mix carefully and serve.

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