Chia (salvia hispanica) is a plant of the genus Salvia and is native to Mexico. Its history goes back to the Aztecs in pre-Columbian times and its value was so great that it was given as an annual tribute by the people to the rulers. Today it is still widely used throughout Mexico and South America. Its seeds are ground and used in nutritious drinks and as a food source in general.
Chia is an annual herb, that can grow up to 3 feet tall. Its flowers are purple, or white, and grow in cluster-like formations at the end of each stem. The seeds are typically very small (about 1 mm in diameter). The color generally is gray but can also range from brown to black and white. The nutritional value of chia seeds is significant in that it contains about 20% protein, 34% oil, 25% dietary fiber and high levels of antioxidants. The oil contains very high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids (about 64%). Chia seeds are completely gluten free and have only trace levels of sodium.
Chia seeds can be eaten raw as a dietary fiber and omega-3 supplement. Ground chia seeds are sometimes added to pinole, which is a coarse flour made from toasted maize kernels. A Mexican drink, known as chia fresca, is made by soaking chia seeds in water, or fruit juice. The soaked seeds are gelatinous in texture and are used in gruels, porridges and puddings. Ground chia seeds (or flour) are used in baked goods, including breads, cakes and biscuits. Chia seeds are also used as sprouts in salads (popularized through the now famous chia pets! :))
We have discovered a company in Florida (Nuchia Foods) that produces two different chia flour products. One is a 100% chia flour product (this flour product should probably make up no more than 20-30% of your total flour use), the other is called their Original Chia Flour. The Original Chia Flour also contains organic brown rice flour and can be used as a direct substitute for wheat flour.
Here is a video, which gives you more information about this nutritious gluten free flour. We are excited to try a flour alternative that allows a direct substitution for regular flour. Our order is on its way and we will share our results with you just as soon as we can. Has anyone used this product already? Please let us know.