How to Make Chia Seed Gel and How to Use It
Chia seed, salvia hispanica, is one of those "new" ancient seed types (along with hemp seed, quinoa, and amaranth) that is making a big buzz for vegetarians and people with gluten-sensitivity.
The health-promoting qualities of chia seed are very attractive-- rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acids, it is also an excellent source of protein, calcium, phosphorus and dietary fibre. Folklore from Mexico has it that the Mayan messengers could pop a handful of chia seed in the morning and run until evening with energy to spare.
Bread made with ground chia seed (or "flour") maintains its nutritional value more than bread made with flax seed. It may be that the antioxidants in chia seed prevent the rancidification that is more common to flax seed.
Along with the stellar nutritional aspects of chia seed is its wonderful gelatinous nature when mixed with water. Easily-made "Chia Gel" has many applications for gluten-intolerant bakers and raw vegans looking to expand their food repertoire.
How To Make Chia Gel
As a purist, I make and store my (organic) chia seed gel in a glass wide-mouth mason jar. Besides relieving me of concerns about the possible toxic effects of plastic containers leaking into my healthy chia gel, the glass container also is calibrated to be 4 (U.S) 8-ounce cups, or 1 quart in size, so it makes accurate measurements easy.
- Place 1/4 - 1/2 C. of organic chia seed into the bottom of a glass jar.
- Fill the jar with filtered water.
- Gently whisk the chia seed (for a few minutes) to disrupt clumping of the chia seeds. Let the gel sit for a few minutes (about 15) and stir again.
- Use in recipes after 15 minutes of gel time. Store in a covered glass jar in fridge.
Gel can also be made using finely-ground chia seed ("flour") in place of the seeds above. Grind seeds in a coffee bean grinder.
Scroll down to see how to make delicious recipes with chia gel... and at LEAST half the fat you would use in other recipes. No cholesterol. No gluten. No eggs. No dairy.
How To Use Chia Gel in Recipes
As mentioned above, chia seed gel is full of nutrients like brain-food Omega 3 essential fatty acids, protein (20% of the seed), calcium, phosphorus and fibre. Your baking and raw vegan recipes will contain much less fat than usual recipes. If you use all plant-based, whole foods your recipes will contain NO cholesterol.
The recipes that follow do NOT use wheat, gluten, dairy, or eggs.
Smoky Pinto-Chia Burger
I use onions in these veggie burgers, but you could use whatever you fancy from the vegetable drawer in your fridge (eg., peppers, broccoli, zucchini). I use gluten-free bread for crumbs and cornmeal as a filler. You could substitute your preferred bread crumbs and cereal filler. These burgers freeze well.
Put together in a food processor:
- 2 14-oz. cans or Pinto Beans
- 2 small white Onions, peeled and chopped
- 2-4 T. Chia Gel
- 3 small slices of bread, crumbled (eg., Silver Hills Chia Bread)
- 4 T. Corn Meal
- 2 T. McKay's Vegetarian Chicken-Style Seasoning
- Splash of Liquid Smoke
- Other seasonings as desired
Shape the burgers into 3" circles and place on greased aluminum foil on a pan. Place in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Cover with foil and cook for 10-15 minutes. Spray or paint with Olive or Coconut Oil. Turn, and cook without foil. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan. Is usually quite crispy on the outside and tender on the inside... great on a bun or eaten as a side. Enjoy!
Christmas Chia Cloud Pudding (Raw Vegan)
Combine the following a food processor or blender:
- 2 C. Almond Pulp (left over after straining Almond Mylk through a Nut Mylk Bag)
- 1/2 Lemon, seeded and peeled
- 1 small Apple cored and chopped
- 6 pitted Medjool Dates
- 1/4 C. Chia Seed Gel
- 1/4 C. Almond Mylk
- Pinch of Celtic Sea Salt
- 1 T. Vanilla
- shot of Maple Syrup (to taste)
- Pinch of Nutmeg
Should resemble traditional rice pudding, but requires no cooking, eggs, dairy, or refined sugars. Garnish with Dried Cranberries or Thompson Raisins.
Coconut Cranberry Chia Carob Chip Cookies (whew)
- 1 C. Coconut Flour
- 1 C. Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Biscuit & Baking Mix
- 1 C. dry Coconut shreds
- 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt
- 1 1/4 Coconut Palm Sugar
- 1/2 C. Carob Chips
- 1/2 C. Dried Cranberries (or Raisins)
- Handful of Hemp Hearts (optional)
- 8 T. Virgin Coconut Oil, melted
- 1/2 C. Applesauce (unsweetened)
- 1 T. Vanilla
- 6 T. Chia Gel (1/2 C. Chia seeds to 4 C. Water)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In one bowl, combine Coconut Flour, Baking Mix, Coconut Shreds, Baking Soda and Sea Salt. Mix well.
- In a larger bowl, cream together the Palm Sugar and the Coconut Oil.
- Mix Apple Sauce and Vanilla into the Sugar and Coconut Oil and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Stir Chia Seeds Gel into wet ingredients slowly, with a wooden spoon, just until combined.
- Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients (except for Carob Chips and Cranberries.)
- Last, mix in Carob Chips and Cranberries.
- Drop 1- 1 1/2 T. of batter per cookie onto pan.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes.
- Wait until the cookies cool before you remove to rack.
What about the Pet?
And, of course, no discussion of this wholesome little seed would be complete without mention of "sprouts"-- you can skip the gel and just do the repeated rinse process in a sprout jar or nut mylk bag just as you would do with other seeds, such as alfalfa or mung beans... although the chia sprout you are likely most familiar with is the famous Chia Pet, which is often actually edible today!
How To Make a CHIA EGG
Chia has great binding properties (holds everything together) in Vegan baking. You can substitute the following for a regular hen's egg in any recipe that you are making vegan:
- 1 Tablespoon of ground Chia seed (grind it in a coffee bean grinder)
- 4 Tablespoons of Water
Combine the above and whisk thoroughly. If it isn't whisking because it's too clumpy, add a little more water. Eventually you should have a raw egg-y quality. Use this CHIA EGG in your baking just as you would use a hen's egg. Increase the ground Chia seed and water for more 'eggs' in your recipe.
Don't miss out on this delicious Chia-Chocolate-Banana Vegan Ice Cream Recipe HERE