Energetics of Chia: Superfood, Not Pet

A decade ago chia pets were all the rage. Today, chia seeds are known as a staple superfood in health-conscious households. Chia comes from Mexico’s Mayan and Aztec civilizations, who used the tiny black and white seeds as an energy booster. Evidence suggests that Aztecs used chia seeds dating back to 3,500 B.C.!

These seeds are the best plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are high in fiber, protein, antioxidants, and calcium. Chia seeds contain greater amounts of antioxidants than blueberries! They are often added to beverages, including kombucha and certain sweet drinks. When mixed with water or water-based drinks, the seeds cause the liquid to form into a gel with a slightly chewy and mildly crunchy texture, not unlike tapioca. They are also often added to cereal, sauces, yogurt, and baked goods. In fact, it is a great whole grain to add to muffins, breads, and more.

Chia seeds can also last almost two years without refrigeration. You can use chia gel as an egg-replacer.ll

Although rumored to aid in weight loss, research has found no such trend. This, however, does not diminish the extraordinary health benefits of chia.

Energetics: Promotes heart health, promotes cardiovascular health, reduces inflammation, reduces cholesterol, enhances cognitive performance, regulates bowel function, prevents hypertension, enhances satiety, regulates blood sugar, and lowers tryglycerides.

Cautions: If you have allergies to sesame or mustard seeds, there is a higher risk of you having a chia allergy. Consult your physician or refrain from consuming chia seeds if you are on high blood pressure medication or blood thinners.

Chia Chipotle Bean Burger

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Bean burgers make a fast, casual and tasty meal that is high in protein and fiber and low in fat. Go ahead and make this recipe your own: Play around with the veggies and seasonings and experiment with other types of beans — you can use kidney and cannellini beans, chickpeas, or even lentils.

1 15-ounce can black beans
1/4 cup chia gel (see recipe below)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup corn kernels or sautéed or cooked vegetables (alternatively, use frozen corn kernels, defrosted, or vegetables leftover from another meal)
1 teaspoon canned chipotle in adobo, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced cilantro or parsley (optional)
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil

1. In the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix or Blendtec), pulse the ingredients until blended. Do not over-process; you do not want to liquefy!

2. Form the mixture into patties.

3. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat.

4. Cook the patties until golden, about five minutes. Flip and repeat.

5. Alternate cooking method: Preheat oven to 325F. Place the patties on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cook until golden, 12 to 15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

6. Serve on hamburger rolls with the condiments of your choice.

Chia Gel

Makes 1 1/4 cups

1 cup cool water
1 3/4 tablespoons chia seeds

1. Pour the water into a sealable plastic or glass container. Slowly pour chia seeds into water while briskly mixing with wire whisk.

2. Wait 3 or 4 minutes and then whisk again

3. Let the mixture stand about 10 minutes before whisking again. Seal the container and store mixture in the refrigerator for up to two weeks to use as needed. Whisk before using. Note: Soaking in water will soften the chia seeds, but they will still be slightly crunchy.

Resources
Coates, Wayne. Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood.
NPR Staff. “Chewing Chia Packs A Superfood Punch.” NPR Books. http://www.npr.org/2012/07/15/156551074/chewing-chia-packs-a-superfood-punch
“Seeds, chia seeds, dried.” Self Nutrition Data. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2
“Top 10 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds.” SFGate. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/top-10-health-benefits-chia-seeds-6962.html
Zelman, Kathleen M. “The Truth About Chia: Can chia seeds really help you lose weight?” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-chia

Energetics of Flaxseed: Versitile Superfood

photo credit: egnilk66 via photopin cc

Flaxseed has gained popularity in the health-conscious community because it is high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. However, some people struggle with how to incorporate flaxseed into their diets. It can be eaten whole or ground. Though ground is sold is many health food stores, researchers and health professionals do not recommended buying pre-ground flax meal due to a high potential of oxidation. Instead, one should grind the whole flaxseeds before use. This can be done easily using a food processor or coffee grinder.

Whether whole or ground, flaxseeds go well with grains, especially in baked goods. In fact, flaxseed can be used as an egg substitute in baking, as well. For each egg to be replaced, mix 1 table spoon of flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water in a food processor or blender until the mixture gets thick and creamy. Voila! That’s it! This egg-replacer can be used in brownies, pankcakes, waffles, muffins, breads, and more. This works for, vegans, those with allergies, and people with high cholestrol. It can even be a quick-fix if you happen to run out of eggs!

photo credit: charliebay via photopin cc

Aside from baking, flaxseeds can be added to oatmeal, granola, and other cereals. Try them in yogurt or with smoothies. Flaxseed also blends well with many condiments and dressings: mayonnaise, mustard, or in any salad! They have a subtle nutty flavor and don’t overpower many recipes.

Since flaxseed does contain lignans (cancer-fighting phytoestrogens), those with the following health conditions should consult a doctor before consuming large or daily amounts:

  • pregnant or breast-feeding
  • taking birth control, blood-thinning medication, diabetes treatments, or hormonal replacement therapy
  • breast, uterine, ovarian, and/or prostate cancer
  • endometriosis
  • conditions where high levels of fiber should be avoided

One last warning is to not eat raw or unripe flaxseeds, as they may be poisonous. Unripe flaxseeds are recognized by their green color. Store varieties are generally golden or brown, and therefore safe to eat.

Energetics: Reduces the risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes; helps lower cholesterol; reduces inflammation; treats menopause symptoms; supports cardiovascular function; protects against infection; aids in treating conditions including ulcers, migraine headaches, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, addiction, eating disorders, preterm labor, emphysema, psoriasis, glaucoma, Lyme disease, lupus, and panic attacks.

 

Resources
“Flaxseeds,” The World’s Healthiest Foods. http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=81
“Flax Seed as Egg Substitute,”Eggless Cooking. http://www.egglesscooking.com/2008/10/15/egg-replacement-event-flaxseed-meal/”The Benefits of Flaxseed,” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-flaxseed
“Flaxseed,” University of Maryland Medical Center. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/flaxseed-000244.htm

Energetics of Quinoa: Colorful Superfood of the Andes

Quinoa popularity has sky-rocketed these past few years. The United Nations has recently declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa, and if you haven’t caught on to miraculous superfood, the time is now! For readers unfamiliar with the “supergrain” (which, consequently, is actually a seed), quinoa is pronounced keen-wah.  Native to the Andes mountains along the western coast of South America, quinoa has sustained the Incas since as early as 3,000 B.C.! It was considered sacred and was used ceremonially and to nourish armies. During the Spanish conquest, the Incas were actually prohibited from growing quinoa and were instead forced to grow wheat.

Did you know that quinoa comes in different colors? You may have seen “rainbow quinoa” on shelves, which is a blend of red, black, and white or “ivory” quinoa. In fact, there are over 120 species of quinoa, each varying slightly in color. There is even pink, orange, and purple shades of quinoa! However, the U.S. market only provides the three more standard varieties (red, black, and white).  The difference in flavor is subtle; however, red has a nuttier, more distinct flavor than its white counterpart.

Ever wonder what a quinoa plant looks like?

Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse. It forms a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids. This is of particular importance because it is one of the few non-animal foods that supply this. It also contains many vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.

Quinoa is treated like many grains. It cooks like rice or can be ground into flour for various recipes. It goes well in salads, too, adding a nutritional kick, or as its own quinoa salad (akin to pasta salad). It is also being used as an alternative to oatmeal, served as a hot breakfast cereal. It has a rice-like texture and makes a good alternative to rice in many dishes, especially with beans! It can also be cooked in broth. It is also a great choice for those who are gluten-free. You should be able to find quinoa pasta at your local health food store, which is a much healthier (and tastier) alternative to standard semolina pasta. There is also quinoa flour (which quinoa pasta is made out of).

Energetics: Promotes energy production, enhances bone density, supports cardiovascular and heart health, protects the body from free radicals, promotes a healthy sleep-cycle.

In one-quarter cup (42.5 grams) of cooked quinoa:
Nutrients
Calories 156.40 8.7% DV
Dietary Fiber 2.51 g 10.0% DV
Protein 5.57 g
Omega-3 Fatty Acids 0.06 g 2.4% DV
Omega-6 Fatty Acids 0.94 g
Vitamins
B1 Thiamin 0.08 mg 5.3% DV
B2 Riboflavon 0.17 mg 10.0% DV
B3 Niacin 1.25 mg 6.3% DV
Vitamin B6 0.09 4.5% DV
Vitamin E 2.07 mg 10.4% DV
Folate 20.83 mcg 5.2% DV
Minerals
Calcium 25.50 mg 2.5% DV
Copper 0.35 mg 17.5% DV
Magnesium 89.25 mg 20=22.3% DV
Manganese 0.96 mg 48.0% DV
Phosphorus 174.3 mg 17.4% DV
Potassium 314.5 mg
Sodium 8.93 mg
Zinc 1.40 mg 9.33% DV
Amino Acids
Alanine 0.26 g
Arginine 0.39 g
Aspartate 0.41 g
Cystine 0.16 g 39.0% DV
Glutamate 0.66 g
Glycine 0.29 g
Histidine 0.13 g 10.1% DV
Isoleucine 0.20 g 17.4% DV
Leucine 0.33 g 13.0% DV
Lysine 0.31 g 13.2% DV
Methionine 0.11 g 14.9% DV
Phenylalanine 0.23 g 19.3% DV
Proline 0.17 g
Serine 0.21 g
Threonine 0.20 g 16.1% DV
Tryptophan 0.06 g 18.8% DV
Tyrosine 0.16 g 16.5% DV
Valine 0.25 g 17.0% DV

Crispy Quinoa Bites

Gluten-Free and Vegetarian!

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Makes 24

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup uncooked black rice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sweet onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (dairy-free, if preferred)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 chives, finely chopped, for garnish
  • 2 cups of homemade tomato sauce, for dipping

Instructions

  1. Cook quinoa and rice according to package directions. Prepare muffin pan with nonstick baking spray.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa and rice with remaining ingredients, except chives and pasta sauce; mix well to combine.
  4. Transfer quinoa and rice mixture to prepared muffin pan. Using a tablespoon, fill each muffin cup to the top, then using a spatula, press down on the mixture to create a flat surface.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven; set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Using a teaspoon, gently remove rice and quinoa snacks from the muffin cups.
  6. Transfer to a serving platter; serve with a sprinkle of fresh chives and a side of tomato sauce for dipping.

 

References

“Crispy Quinoa Bites” The Healthy Apple http://thehealthyapple.com/2012/05/21/crispy-quinoa-bites/

“Quinoa: Nutrition from the Andes” Cook With Quinoa http://cookwithquinoa.com/quinoa-nutrition-from-the-andes/

“Quinoa” The World’s Healthiest Foods http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=142

“Difference Between Red & Golden Quinoa” Livestrong http://www.livestrong.com/article/170638-difference-between-red-golden-quinoa/