Friday, March 23, 2012

Cha cha cha.....Chia Seeds

Chia in its plant stage.
I could not resist the title!  LMBO!!!  I digress......

So, most of you know, I am not a fight my way through new, undiscovered lands where the trees and bushes can only be whacked down with a 45 inch super sharp blade that is swung back and forth in front of my face and body person.  No....I am a sit back, for the most part, and watch person.  Watch for a ripple on the wide ocean that is health and nutrition before all of us.  When the ripple becomes a wave, then it catches my attention and I recognize it and do something about it.  Which... what do I do?  Research, read and write.  Three of many of my favorite things to do, the latter still leaving something to be desired. 

The funny thing is that we are all VERY familiar with Chia.  Remember those commercials we grew up with?  Chia pet?  I think they still air them around Christmas.  Yep, those little seeds that you see grow into a luscious green head of hair on tweedy bird or scooby doo.  :-)  I never knew they were sooo good for us.  Kinda funny.  Like a full circle "thing."    But don't buy the Chia pet seeds to eat.  Those are not for consumption.  Fyi.  ;-)

So......the newest ripple that has turned into a wave is Chia. we go.  :-)

Aren't these just beautiful?!
My friend Lisa, introduced me to Chia.  She introduced it to me by telling me Dr. Oz spoke about it, she bought some, put some in a glass jar, labeled it and gave it to me.  Going to be honest....until a few days ago, it set prettily on my counter-top, staring at me.  Beckoning me to research it or eat it.  Neither of which I did.

Then as I have been researching new raw recipes and nutrition on the Internet (Pinterest too!!) I keep seeing Chia as an ingredient.  Ok...the ripple is getting a little bigger.  Then I go to a mom's group and a girl who I sat down beside, August brings up Chia.  Really?!  Ok, now I am completely intrigued.  So, thank you to everyone and everything that has brought me to this point.  :-)  

So, here we go........
Chia seeds contain high levels of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Once eaten by the Aztecs and Mayans, these black and white seeds are versatile, fitting into a number of different food dishes and drinks. According to healthy living website Your Natural Wellness, just 2 tbsp. of chia seeds pack 30 percent more antioxidants than blueberries and contain more calcium than a glass of milk.

How to use Chia Seeds
1. Add chia seeds to drinks. You can add chia seeds to water, juice or any other hot or cold beverage of your choosing, where they won't drastically alter the taste of the drink. Leave them for about two minutes before drinking so they absorb some of the liquid.
  • 2. Crush chia seeds. You can sprinkle crushed chia seeds on salads, soups, cereal of juice. Not only will they add omega nutrients to your food but the crushed seeds also have a distinctive nutty flavor.
    3. Sprinkle whole seeds onto your food and drink. Chia seeds go well with most foods, including fish, stew, vegetables and yogurt. When the seeds are whole, they have a neutral flavor so you can use them with both sweet and savory food.
    4. Place the seeds in water or another beverage for at least 10 minutes. They will absorb a large amount of the liquid and turn into a gel-like substance. Add 1/3 cup of whole seeds to 2 cups of water or juice. Once you have the gel, you can eat it on its own, add it to stews or soups as a thickener, or mix it with an equal amount of jelly for a healthy dessert.
    5. Add crushed seeds to your baked goods for extra nutrients. Chia seeds go well in cakes, biscuits, muffins or bread. Use them in baked foods as part of a wheat-free, gluten-free or grain-free diet and, as they are seeds, you can also add them to vegan goods, too.
    6.  Wanting to lose weight.  Many people have reported that when they consume Chia seeds and water, as the seeds expand they feel fuller and eat less.  Which has in turn led to less pounds on the scale.

    In a one-ounce sample, dried chia seeds contain 9% of the daily value for protein (4g), 13% fat (9g) (57% of which is ALA) and 42% dietary fiber (11g), based on a daily intake of 2000 calories.  The seeds also contain the essential minerals phosphorus manganese, calcium, calcium, potassium and sodium in amounts comparable to other edible seeds, such as flax or sesame.

    Chia's unique combination of soluble and insoluble fiber combine to slow down your body’s conversion of starches into sugars. If you eat chia with a meal, it will help you turn your food into constant, steady energy rather than a series of ups and downs that wear you out.

    Because of the high level of anti-oxidants in Chia it has a shelf life of over 2 years at room temperature.  That is with no chemicals or preservatives!  

    By weight, Chia has more calcium in it than whole milk.  For me, who is trying to give up dairy (and it has worked, I have not had a sinus infection since I quit drinking dairy milk) Chia will give me the calcium I need.

    chia gel.  Chia only takes on the flavor of the foods it is being prepared in, so I don't have to worry about Chia changing the flavor of my recipe.  If I can bake with 50% less fats, then I am sold.  This is what I am going to try....

    Chia Gel
    1 tablespoon chia seeds
    9 tablespoons reverse osmosis or filtered water (or any liquid)

    Stir together the chia seeds and the water with a fork.  Let the mixture set on counterop for 10-15 minutes.  When you return your glass bowl will be filled with a thick gelatin, with the seeds suspended inside.  This can be used in place of butter and oil in recipes.  The gel with keep for 1 week covered in the refrigerator.  

    You can substitute 50% of the oil or butter with Chia gel.  For example:  if recipe calls for 8 tablespoons of butter, only use 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of Chia gel.  You will notice the end result that you are baking will maintain moisture and freshness longer when preparing with Chia gel.  (very cool!)  And think about it, you are putting more anti-oxidants into your foods!!

    Try this in your cookies, pancakes, brownies, cakes, breads, 

    I can't wait to try this!!!

    To sum it up Chia has.......
    • Magnesium – 15 times more than Broccoli
    • Calcium – 6 times more than whole milk
    • Omega-3 – nearly 9 times the amount found in Salmon
    • Fiber – more than flax seed & 2 times more than bran flakes
    • Iron – nearly 3 times more than spinach
    • Protein – more than soy
    • Unlike fish,  Chia Seeds have no cholesterol
    So, once again, this is a no-brainer!  And thank you Lisa for giving me Chia seeds!  Now I am more than ready to add them to our meals, snacks, etc.

    So.....GO BUY Chia seeds and add them to your meals, snacks and desserts!!  Winding Way Farms, Amazon, Costco and Whole Foods carry them.

    (There is some controversy that eating them at the table instead of cooking with them provides more nutrition to your body.  And controversy over buying Chia seeds organic.  The research I have found states that the way the Chia plant grow, spraying with pesticides is not even necessary.  The plant produces an oil that insects hate.  Therefore pesticides are not necessary.)

    *How to use Chia Seed's and nutritional info from My Chia Seeds
  • Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Caramel Sauce

    This is seriously THE BEST CARAMEL SAUCE I have ever tasted!  So, I had to share it. :-)

    After attempting another recipe which... =equaled=...FAILED from another blog, I resorted to the place that I should have started....yes, my favorite magazine/Internet subscription in the world......Cook's Illustrated  And when I attempted this recipe, the second time using Cook's Illustrated got it!.....perfection!!!!  I LOVE Cook's Illustrated!!  (no I do not work for them or receive perks from them....their recipes actually work the first time you try them, that's more than enough reason for me to love them!)

    So here we go.....

    Classic Caramel Sauce
    2 cups granulated sugar (either cane or organic sugar) Meijer sells both, other sugar is GMO
    1 cup organic heavy cream or organic heavy whipping cream (Horizon is what I can find locally)
    Pinch table salt
    2 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, cold (Meijer has their brand of organic, it's all I use)

    1.  Pour 1 cup of reverse osmosis or filtered water into a 2 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan; add sugar to center of pot to keep granules from adhering to the sides of the pot, stir with wooden spoon.  Bring to boil over high heat, covered.  Uncover pot, insert candy thermometer and continue to boil until syrup is thick and straw-colored, registering 300 degrees on candy thermometer which will be about 15 minutes (if you don't own a candy thermometer, you can check the sugar syrup with an instant read thermometer than can read temperatures in excess of 350 degrees or follow the time approximations in this recipe and watch the color of the sugar syrup; it should be a deep amber color before the cream is added.)

    2.  Reduce heat to medium; continue to cool until sugar is deep amber, begins to smoke, and registers 350 degrees on candy thermometer, about 5 minutes longer.  Meanwhile, when temperature of syrup reaches 300 degrees, bring cream and salt to simmer in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat.  (If cream reaches simmer before syrup reaches 350 degrees, remove cream from heat and set aside.)

    3.  Remove sugar syrup from heat.  Pour about 1/4 of the hot cream into sugary syrup; stir, mixture will bubble (which is quite beautiful to watch), let bubbling subside.  Add remaining cream; stir, let bubbling subside.  Whisk gently until smooth, whisk in butter.  Let cool until warm; serve. (I poured mine into a pint glass canning jar, I could not fit it all in the pint, so recipe makes approximately 2 1/4 cups of sauce.  Can be refrigerated for up to 1 month (but trust me it will not last that long!); reheat by placing glass pint jar, uncovered, in a pan with water over low heat.)

    I made this because I recently had a Pampered Chef party at my house and the dessert we chose called for a jar of store bought know me...not happening in this house, so I made my own.  :-)  This sauce tastes DIVINE served over vanilla ice cream!  Or heck, who am I kidding it tastes great by digging your spoon into the sauce and eating it!  :-)  Enjoy!!!!  And let me know what you think!