VEGETARIAN LESSONS FOR LAZY DUMMIES (Part 1 of 4)
feat. Chia Seeds [photo from The Chalkboard]
[Last week, I had my own “Vegetarian Cooking 101”. Not that what we prepared was the most basic of vegetarian fare, but that it was simple enough to do, and that I got some vegetarian cooking fundamentals when I got introduced to Chia Seeds, Nutritional Yeast, Liquid Aminos and TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein).
I also decided to do a wee bit of research on my own, and here’s the super simple low-down (I didn’t go all-out geek, I promise!) for those of you exploring vegetarian fare as well.]
What is it? Chia seeds are typically small ovals with a diameter of about 1 mm (0.039 in). They are mottle-colored with brown, gray, black and white. It is a species of flowering plant in the mint family [ref].
What is it used for? It can be mixed with drinks, porridge, bread or pastries. Its gelatinous texture when mixed with liquid makes it an ideal sustitute for eggs or butter/shortening/oil in vegan baked goods, or as a binder for vegan meatballs and such.
What are its health benefits? It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, since the seeds yield 25–30% extractable oil, including α-linolenic acid (ALA). Eaten raw as a whole seed, providing protein, fats, and fiber [ref]. It’s also an energy booster, and helps keep you full longer [ref].
Any known risks? If you’re prone to low blood pressure, you might want to avoid or keep chia seed consumption at a minimum [ref].
Where can I get it? I haven’t gone out and bought my own chia seeds yet but the brand above, Bob’s Red Mill, is available at Healthy Options. I’ll update you guys if I find other sources.
Happy baking and meatball-making!