Chia is one of the most simple, nutritious things you can add to any meal. And, you can do almost anything with it – sprinkle a raw teaspoon into your salad or smoothie, let it ‘gel’ into a chia pudding, add it to your soups, or even bake with it.
Many people are a little nervous to try baking with chia because they’re not quite sure how to do it, or whether it will ruin the recipe. Thankfully, it doesn’t take a master chef to include chia seeds in almost any baking recipe. Here are our top five tips:
As you like it
While many other seeds (like flax seeds, and hemp seeds) require special handling to ensure their nutritional profile stays in tact during cooking, chia is very versatile and durable. This means you needn’t worry that baking, blitzing or any other kitchen activities are going to ruin them. You can use chia by adding it as an ingredient into your baking or simply sprinkle seeds onto your bread or biscuits before or after the oven.
To grind, or not to grind
Chia has a soft outer shell which is easily digestible, so you don’t have to worry about grinding it before eating. In saying that, grinding your chia seeds won’t do them any harm and some recipes might work better with a smoother, ground chia – like cakes, brownies, and less textured baked goods. For a recipe with texture, like cookies, muffins or breads with nuts and seeds, whole seeds will work just fine. Ground or whole, chia seeds retain the full value of their nutrition.
With virtually no discernible taste of their own, chia seeds will not ruin your delicious cookies or cakes. If fact, most people will not even notice they are in there! Fussy little eaters? Never fear, adding chia is a simple way to give your baking a nutritional boost of fibre, omega-3 and protein, while making sure your whole family will enjoy it.
Gluten-free and vegan friendly
Chia is terrific for gluten-free and vegan baking because it can replace a number of other ingredients. Use chia flour instead of regular flour, or use chia gel to replace thickeners like gelatin. Chia can also be used as a binder in place of egg and breadcrumbs for burgers, meatloaf and meatballs.
Need to go totally egg free? We’ve got you covered. For each egg you need to replace, simply grind one tablespoon of chia with a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, and mix with three tablespoons of water. Allow the chia to form a gel in the water by leaving it to sit for 10mins.