Ten uses for chia

I have heard a lot about chia seeds in the past few months and it was with great excitement (and a bit of nervousness) that I finally bought a packet of chia seeds for my local supermarket.

Chia contains omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, calcium, potassium, iron, fibre, minerals and nutrients, and is gluten and dairy-free.

I have heard that chia is good for a number of things including:

  • reducing inflammation
  • lowering cholesterol
  • aiding in weight loss
  • protecting the body from free radicals and cancer
  • improving brain performance
  • boosting strength and endurance
  • reducing stress and
  • aiding with digestive health

Just google “chia seeds” and you will see for yourself that it is being touted as nature’s wonder food with a wide range of uses and benefits.

Chia Gel

I decided to try the white seeds and started off with the simple chia gel, which can be made by mixing 1 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of chia seeds.

After stirring rapidly for about 2-3 minutes (you can use a hand whisk or shake the mixture in a bottle instead), the mix was ready.

This is what it looked like:

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The chia gel can be eaten on its own, used in smoothies and drinks, mixed into juices, salad dressings, porridge or soups.  

You can also use chia gel as a substitute for eggs!

Chia seeds

You could also use the chia seeds on their own, and sprinkle them over salads, pastas, in cereals and stir-fries or add them to cakes, and desserts.

It is a simple and easy way to fill yourself up and add some nutrition to your meals.

I’m hoping to use a lot more chia in my cooking and would love to hear what your favourite chia recipes are? 

 

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D’ough Espresso, World Square Sydney

Address: World Square, Shp 9.14/ 644 George St, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9266 0395

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D’ough is located on the bottom level of World Square Shopping Centre, towards the south end of Sydney.

One morning, MC and I decided to grab some breakky and wanted something that was:

a) quick;

b) cheap; and

c) close to my work and his uni.

We decided to give D’ough a try.

Atmosphere

For a Wednesday morning at about 8am it was pretty busy with workers lining up for their coffee fix.

The counter area was crowded with the people waiting for their takeaway orders, but the inside seating area was quiet and peaceful.

Service

We ordered at the counter and paid at the counter.

Our food was then brought out to us by a friendly staff member who was pleasant and smiley.

Food

I ordered a toasted blueberry bagel with cream cheese (and got a Boost juice to go with it from just outside).

MC ordered a toasted ham and cheese croissant with a hot chocolate.

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The blueberry bagel tasted great but wasn’t toasted enough, while the ham and cheese croissant was a little burnt! Such a shame as the flavours of both were pretty good.

MC also enjoyed his hot choc (and I loved my Boost!).

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 5
  • Food-  5.5
  • Ambience- 5.5

The Cook’s Garden, Turramurra ($)

Address: 272 Bobbin Head Rd  North Turramurra NSW

Tel: (02) 9144 5086

Website: http://www.thecooksgarden.com.au/

* * *

I had heard good things about this place and had been wanting to visit for some time.

Prowsey and I finally got the chance one Saturday afternoon as we headed up to North Turramurra to check it out.

Atmosphere

As it was the afternoon the atmosphere was pretty quiet and calm, really serene.

The interior is decorated with lots of wood panelling and neutral colours like whites and greens and you can see the little garden at the back which is a nice touch, but the front view of the street is quite boring.

The tables were nicely set up and as we were dining the waitress was preparing them up for dinner service.

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The Cook’s Garden proved to be a good spot to have a chat as apart from Prowsey and I, there were only two other ladies at the restaurant.

Service

We stepped into the little chocolate and cake shop at the front of the restaurant and waited about 5 minutes before someone came to the front of the shop to greet us.

We decided to have a tea and cake each and ordered and paid at the front counter before taking our own seats by the window.

There really wasn’t much to the service. We didn’t have any amazing waiters or friendly smiles. We just ordered, our tea and cakes were brought out and that’s it.  As we were leaving however, a friendly gentleman at the front of the shop did thank us for coming and was quite nice but other than that it was a really average experience.

Food

Prowsey and I both ordered English Breakfast teas and Persian Polenta cakes.

The Persian Polenta cakes were delicious. They were moist and very orangey, had a lovely mini-sized presentation and were slightly sticky. Delicious.

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Persian Orange Polenta Cake

While the tea was also tasty and quite nice, the cups they were served in were a little stained and chipped. Not very good presentation for a place which supposedly has a couple of Good Food Chef Hats!

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English Breakfast Tea

Cost

The tea cost $4.00.

There are a variety of cakes available at the front of the restaurant.

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 5.5
  • Food-  7
  • Ambience- 6.5

The Cook's Garden on Urbanspoon

Le Pain Quotidien, Westfield Sydney, Sydney CBD ($)

Address: Westfield Sydney, Level 4, Corner of Pitt St and Market St, Sydney, NSW

Tel: (02) 8246 9213

Website: http://www.lepainquotidien.com.au/

* * *

Atmosphere

When you walk through the doors of Le Pain Quotidien, it’s like walking into a Parisian cafe. The soft browns, cute little wooden chairs and quaint jars and bottles on the counter make the place feel unique and artsy. You would never know that just beyond those doors is Westfield Sydney and the bustling Sydney streets!

It was mum’s first time at LPQ, but my second, and mum thought the place was quite adorable. We were there for breakfast and wanted to try out the coffee and some of the pastries on offer.

Service

As soon as we walked in the door we were greeted by a friendly “hello”. The girl who greeted us was welcoming and cheerful, especially considering that it was so early in the morning.

She took our order with a smile and her warmth made us feel comfortable and at ease.

Food

Mum decided to order a cappuccino and an almond croissant. The almond croissant was delicious, really soft and slightly warmed up. The sweet icing sugar and almond flavoured coating were divine and made the perfect breakky pastry to go with the strong coffee.

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I went for walnut bread and a latte. Of course, I went for the chocolate spread (basically nutella), and it was fabulous! It wasn’t as sweet as nutella, but it was just as thick and smooth. LPQ sells the spreads and on that particular day it was $6.00 for a jar, not a bad deal!

Both coffees tasted nice and were served in relatively large round cups.

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My walnut bread was a brown sort of rye bread with lots of yummy walnuts. The bread tasted like sourdough and was quite thin.

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I ordered it toasted and was able to choose from a variety of spreads on the table including cherry jam, chocolate spread, apricot jam and white chocolate spread.

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Cost

The walnut bread was $4.00 for two slices, with free spreads.

The coffees were $3.75 for a small.

I don’t know how much the almond croissant was exactly, but it was around the $4-6 range.

Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 7.5
  • Food- 7.5
  • Ambience- 7
  • Value – 7

Le Pain Quotidien on Urbanspoon

Raspberry & White Chocolate Cupcakes (makes about 25)

A good friend of mine is expecting a baby boy soon and so some friends of mine decided we would visit her and give her a sort of impromptu baby shower! I decided to make a few things to take over, including these raspberry and white chocolate cupcakes!

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Ingredients:

  • 125grams room temperature butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used light milk)
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate melts, broken up
  • 1 Tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 pinch salt

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180C and line muffin/cupcake tray.

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2. Place all ingredients except for raspberries and white chocolate in a mixing bowl and beat for 10 minutes.

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3. Fold in raspberries and white chocolate with a spatula.

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4. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and springy on top.

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5. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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6. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy.

Corn & Zucchini Fritters (serves 4)

These delicious fritters are easy to make and perfect for breakfast, brunch or lunch.

Topped with fresh or smoked salmon and a dollop or sour cream, they were tasty and something I hadn’t tried making before. Even my younger brother who tends to be a bit of a fussy eater enjoyed them.

I adapted this recipe from the Taste website.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup of corn kernels
  • 2/3 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 40g butter
  • 100g smoked salmon
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Salt

Method:

1. Sift flours into a bowl.

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2. Combine eggs and milk in a jug and whisk lightly. Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the flour until it forms a smooth batter

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3. Add corn, zucchini and cheese.

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4. Stir to combine then add a little salt, cover and set aside for about 20 minutes.

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5. Melt a teaspoon of butter in a large, non-stick pan over high. Pour a few tablespoons of batter into the pan for each fritter.

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6. Cook on each side until golden and cooked through. Then remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all batter is used, adding a teaspoon of butter for each new batch.

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7. Place a fritter on a plate and top with 1 tablespoon of sour cream, some sliced salmon and extra cheese.

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Blueberry Pancakes with Honey & Ice Cream (makes about 10-12)

This is a delicious pancake recipe which is perfect for both breakfasts and desserts!

Ingredients:

  • Spray oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 2 1/4 Tsp baking powder
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Method:

1. Separate eggs and beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they are stiff.
2. In another bowl beat egg yolks, milk and melted butter until mixed well.
3. In a separate bowl mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
3. Add the egg/milk/butter mixture to the flour mixture and beat with a spoon or spatula until smooth.
4. Fold in egg whites.
5. Add blueberries and fold until they are evenly distributed in the batter.
6. Heat a medium pan over the stove and spray with oil. Pour batter onto the pan and cook until bottom of pancake is golden. Flip and cook on the other side then transfer the pancake to a plate.
Repeat until all batter is used.
7. Drizzle with honey (or maple syrup) and serve with a scoop of ice cream.