March 30, 2014

Chia, by Laurie Boone: a book review


Chia seeds and I haven't always seen eye-to-eye, like when they sneaked into my sugar jar and pretended to be an insect infestation, or when they added crunch and lumpies to a pudding that should have been smooth and creamy. I believe they are really good for me, and I always add them to smoothies, but they go into the Vitamix to become one with my breakfast drink. When I was offered a copy of Chia, by Laurie Boone, for review, I was intrigued — maybe I just needed some good instruction.

The book is divided into six chapters, the first five of which each speak to a different health benefit one would expect to receive from eating chia seeds. Each chapter contains health information, and recipes related to the health goals described in the chapter. The chapter topics include: healthy weight, super stamina for peak performance, the healthy gut, strong heart and better blood sugars, and chia for glowing beauty. Chapter 6 contains general, essential tips for working with chia, and 'templates' for creating your own recipes. Chia seeds are high in protein, fiber, minerals and essential fatty acids, and after reading through the book, and being convinced that adding more chia seeds to my diet would be a good thing, I looked at the recipes, and found quite a few that interested me. There are 75 recipes to accompany the health information, and since this is a cooking blog, it seemed appropriate to try a few.


I decided to start with the basics, and tackle my nemesis, chia pudding. You're probably shaking your head and wondering what my problem is, but although I like both crunchy and creamy foods, I don't like them mixed together. You will never catch me adding nuts to brownies or eating a bowl of (vegan) mocha almond fudge ice cream. So, I regarded the recipe for Velvety Banana Chia Pudding with suspicion. Instead of coconut milk I used unsweetened soy milk blended with a few cashews, and I doubled the vanilla, but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. And guess what? I was wrong about chia pudding — I loved it. So did my husband, and the pickiest eater of all time — Miss E. I used, black chia seeds because that's what I had in my pantry, but maybe white ones would have been prettier. They both taste the same and have the same nutritional value.


The next recipe that caught my attention was Chia Corn Cakes. The book isn't 100% vegan, and occasional recipes might contain an egg or honey. Following the tips found in chapter six, I made chia gel, and subbed it for the egg.  Also as suggested if subbing chia gel for an egg, I added 1/4 cup of a different flour (in this case, garbanzo flour) instead of the milled chia in the recipe. (I didn't even know you could buy milled chia — and it's kind of pricy.) The corn cakes were great, and I'm sure I'll be making them again.


The cinnamon and spice sweet potato crisps sounded tempting, so I got out my mandoline and made paper thin slices from a sweet potato, as directed. The recipe said to use three medium potatoes and spread the slices in a single layer onto three large baking sheets, but after cutting just one, I had more than enough slices to cover three baking sheets. And I was real tired of slicing. It also took a lot longer to get them crisp in the oven than the recipe said. They were delicious and fun to eat, and I'm glad I made them, but probably won't do it again — too lazy.

The recipes are vegetarian and gluten-free. Most of the recipes are vegan, and those that are not, are very easily converted. The book contains a great deal of nutritional and fun information about chia seeds, as well as clever ways to integrate them into your diet.

About the author
Lauri Boone, R.D., is a registered dietitian and raw food instructor. She is a regular contributor to One Green Planet and has written articles for Crazy Sexy Life and has appeared in numerous media outlets including CNN, BBC Radio, NPR, the Huffington Post, Fox, Oxygen magazine, and the Vegetarian Nutrition Update. She has worked with clients in private practice and conducted nutrition classes for a variety of groups including Whole Foods Market, DC United Major League Soccer, and Avon 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer. She lives in Victor, NY.

Fair Winds Press offers nonfiction books in a range of practical categories, including nutrition and cookery, fitness, parenting, beauty, treating sickness, mental health, and using new medicine..    

I received a free copy of the book for review purposes. I was not paid to write the review. All opinions are my own.

18 comments:

  1. There's such a glut of health food/vegan/raw cookbooks out there with no real concept. So it's refreshing to see a book centering on one, often misunderstood staple. Chia pudding is one of my go-tos since it's so easy and healthy. But this reminds me I've only scratched the surface.

    I love your writing style, Andrea. Great review!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dynise! I was only using chia in smoothies, but I've got lots of other possibilities now.You can do a lot more with this little seed than I realized.

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  2. Glad you found a chia pudding you liked! I've had really good versions, and some very weird slimy ones...

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    Replies
    1. I'm not a fan of the weird slimy ones, but now that I've had a good one, I'm gonna make it often. And the corn cakes, too.

      Delete
    2. Would anyone publicly admit to being a fan of the "weird slimy ones"?

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    3. It's possible that some people have a greater tolerance for weird and slimy than others. I'm thinking of certain raw seafoods that some people eat and love. Sigh.

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  3. This book sounds like fun. And welcome to the wonderful world of chia pudding! I'm so glad you turned a corner. Now I'm inspired to get some soaking to eat for dessert tonight. :D

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    Replies
    1. I'm looking forward to trying some of the other pudding recipes as well — and the soups, salads, etc.! So many options.

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  4. I didn't know that you could make chips in the oven with sweet potatoes. That's a game changer for me...

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    Replies
    1. You can do it with other veggies, too. I've seen carrots and white potatoes. You have to slice them very thin — a mandoline is probably best. I thought the sweet potatoes tasted a lot like plantain chips, but much less greasy.

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  5. I haven't really made anything with chia even though I know it's good for you. But your review just might be what I needed to get on board. :-)

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    1. I had only added them to smoothies and made bad pudding. Now I realize you can add them to just about anything. And I really liked the chia gel as an egg sub.

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  6. I really like chia, but it's just too expensive over here right now. Fingers crossed the price will drop soon and I can make some corn cakes! How was the chia pudding different to the ones you made before, to win you over?

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    Replies
    1. It's expensive here, too. I buy a bag at Costco, which brings the price down. It lasts a long time, though, because you only use a small amount in a recipe.

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  7. Man, I wish I could get on this amazing list you're on to review books! Woe is me. I've just begun my experimenting with chia, so I bow to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The different publishers contact me, though I'm not sure why. I don't accept most of the reviews and product samples I'm offered, because while it seems like a good idea on paper, it takes a lot of time to actually do the reviews and I feel bad when I get behind. I have a book coming to me soon that I'm excited about, but it hasn't arrived yet, and the publisher wants the review by April 7! If you want to review books, try contacting the publisher and asking for a review copy. This works for products, too. I've never done it, but I know others that have. Someone I know got a sodastream that way.

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  8. Apologies if this comes through twice.

    I too am chia averse, so thanks for tackling the tough topics! I had no idea there were so many uses for chia, so this book sounds extremely intriguing. Watch your fingers with the mandoline! Those things make me so nervous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The very first time I used a mandoline I learned about their dangerous nature. I won't elaborate.

      As for chia, it's an odd seed. I never would have picked up a chia cookbook on my own, and almost didn't agree to review it, but I felt bad about my negative feelings towards a food with such a positive resumé. I no longer fear it — just added it to wonderful energy bars. And, I've had chia pudding several times in the last week.

      Delete

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