What it is: Chia seeds come from the flowering plant Salvia Hispanica and are part of the mint family, known as Lamiacceae. This annual herb grows to one meter tall and produces purple or white flowers. There are two plants called chia – the other (Salvia Columbariae) is commonly known as golden chia.
Where it’s from: The chia plant is native to Mexico and Guatemala, where the seeds are believed to have been a staple food of the Mayans as early as 3 500BC. While the Mayan word chia means “strength”, chia is actually derived from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word chian, which means “oily.”
Where it’s produced: Grown for its seeds, chia is commercially produced in Mexico, as well as Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Australia. The Chia Company, an Australian health food company, is the world’s largest producer of premium quality chia and chia products.
What it tastes and looks like: Chia seeds are tiny oval seeds that come in two colour varieties – black and white. According to The Chia Company, there is no difference between these two colours, and although you do find brown-coloured chia, it is an immature form of the seed and should not be eaten.
Chia seeds, when eaten in seed form, taste similar to that of poppy seeds with a mild, nutty flavour. They are very versatile though and can be soaked in liquid to create a gel-like consistency – providing soft and sweet tapioca-like pearls.
How to eat/use it: Because of their versatility, chia seeds are easy to add to food or beverages. They can be sprinkled over cereals, soups, vegetables and rice dishes or mixed into smoothies. You can also make a chia seed porridge by mixing them with milk.
A good source of: They may be tiny, but these seeds pack a punch! Containing essential vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, manganese, zinc and phosphorous, chia seeds are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and high in antioxidants, protein and fibre.
Benefits: The benefits are endless! Omega-3 fats are vital for a healthy heart, while calcium is crucial in the prevention of osteoporosis. According to studies, chia seeds have a stabilising effect on blood sugar, plus they contain tryptophan – an amino acid that helps to regulate appetite, sleep cycles and your mood. Being rich in vitamins, minerals, protein and dietary fibre, these seeds will not only give you a natural boost of energy, but also keep your digestive health on track.
CHIA STEAMED FISH
Courtesy of www.thechiaco.com
“This recipe works great with pomfret, tilapia or red snapper.”
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 clove garlic (grated)
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive or sesame oil
4 fish fillet
2 tbsp spring onions, sliced
A few coriander or parsley leaves
2 tsp black chia seeds
In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, ginger, garlic, water and oil. Add the fish and turn the pieces over to coat, then set aside for 5 minutes. Place the filets in a steaming basket or steamer. Set over boiling water, cover with lid and steam for about 3 to 5 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Transfer to plates and sprinkle with spring onions, coriander and chia seeds.
Tip: You can also place the fish in a baking dish and pour the marinade over the fillets, add 2 tbsp water and cover with baking paper and foil then bake in a 180°C oven for about 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover and bake about 2 to 3 minutes, until the fish is cooked through.
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