All contents 2010-present, The Gluten Free Critic

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ruth's Chia Goodness Apple Almond Cinnamon

Ah, breakfast, that most important meal of the day. Yet, it naturally occurs during the time in the day when my personal mental acuity is at its ebb. And, during the work week, it's something I want to be done with ASAP. Given all that, can you imagine how excited I was to find a breakfast item that promised easy preparation and fantastic nutrition? Well, okay, I wasn't jumping up and down or anything, but I was intrigued, to say the least. Well, let's talk first about the food involved here, or rather, the "superfood." That food is Salvia Hispanica, more commonly known as "Chia." Yes, Chia. As in, Chia Pets. That Chia. Yes, apparently the fuel behind all those Porky Pigs has been cultivated in the Americas for thousands of years (especially by the Aztecs), and according to Ruth's packaging, is "quite possibly the most nutritious seed ever." Really? That seems difficult to quantify. What has been quantified is that chia seeds are high in calcium, protein, fiber, magnesium, and an Omega-3 fatty acid known as ALA. Trustworthy studies on the benefits of eating chia seeds are thin on the ground, unfortunately, so the full effects of this food are unknown. That didn't stop "Dr. Oz" from the Oprah Winfrey show from endorsing these seeds, rather predictably leading to their current surge in popularity.

In their particular application, Ruth's have paired their chia seeds with buckwheat and hemp for more seedy goodness; they've also thrown in almonds, raisins, and dried apples for flavor. I've noted before that I have a weakness for apple cinnamon as a taste concept-- would that weakness lead me to loving this food?

Well, let's first talk about the way this stuff is prepared. According to the directions, it couldn't be any easier! Just mix 2T of seed mix with 1/4 cup of water (hot or cold water, even), stir, and let set for 3-5 minutes. While you wait, the mixture is supposed to "thicken." This particular bit led me to think that the resulting meal would be similar to grits in its consistency. Spoiler alert: not so much! The first time I tried making it, I went with the "cold water" approach. I measured, poured, stirred, and waited. After waiting the requisite five minutes, all I had was a not-entirely-appealing-looking layer of watery sludge in the bottom of my bowl (see the pic). I steeled myself, and took a bite. The flavor wasn't too bad. The seeds all tasted, well, seedy, but the apple-cinnamon almond combination was fairly decent. I also didn't mind the presence of the raisins, as I am normally wont to do. However, when considering the dish's texture, well, there was one rather unrelenting problem: chia seeds, apparently, when they get get, get slimy. So I was eating something whose major mass was cold and slimy. I'm not going to lie to you. It was gross. I got through most of the bowl, but I couldn't quite finish it. Cold, slimy, and watery? Blech. Also: raisins. On the plus side, though, I didn't get as hungry as I'd feared, especially given that 2T seeds + 1/4 cup water = not much food. But I didn't get even the slightest bit peckish for the rest of the morning. Bonus!

I knew, though, that in the interests of fairness, I was going to have to try again, this time with hot water. So, once I had convinced myself I was ready, I did just that. Again I measured the seeds, again I poured the water, again I waited. Again, the stuff failed to "set" in any meaningful way (the picture above, actually, is from the second attempt). Was it a better eating experience? Slightly. Using warm water instead of cold meant that the chia seeds were now warm and slimy rather than cold and slimy. However, they were still slimy. And "slimy" is just not a quality I want in my food. For full disclosure's sake, I decided to make the meal one last time, this time being absolutely sure to get the measurements right. Maybe the reason the stuff failed to set was because there was just too much water in it? Turns out, not so much. The third attempt, with my carefully-controlled measurements, was actually the worst of all in terms of cohesiveness. It went in the trash.

Salvia hispanica may, in fact, be one of the most powerfully nutritious seeds out there, but this is a bad vehicle for it. If you're interested in reaping its benefits, The GF Critic suggests buying the seeds in bulk and using them as addons; perhaps sprinkling them into a smoothie or into some yogurt. Meanwhile, I'll be continuing my search for the perfect breakfast food.

No comments:

Post a Comment