I read about chia seeds in Vegetarian Times magazine last month. “Hm,” I thought to myself, intrigued. But not yet intrigued enough to go out and get some.
My friend Steve told me about a shake he made with kale and chia seeds last week with his new vitamix. Once I suppressed the jealousy (I want a vitamix!) I thought, “Interesting. Chia seeds again…” Still, I refrained from adding them to my grocery list. Stubborn? Yup. Why? I have no idea.
Then I read a little article about chia seeds in Alignyo http://www.alignyo.com/get-nourished/seed-savvy, an online yoga newsletter and resource for yogis that I’ve recently become a writer and brand ambassador for.
Um…three times is the charm…right? Ok, chia seeds: you have my attention. Tell me more.
Apparently chia seeds…:
1. Are loaded with omega 3′s (as opposed to omega 6′s, which we don’t want)
2. Boost your energy and mood. Hm…
3. Can help prevent inflammation
4. Are high in fiber
5. And have an appetite-suppressing effect (for those of you trying to watch the late night snacking, or over eating in general. Guilty.)
Well, that was enough information for me to add chia seeds to my grocery list, and into my grocery bag 2 days ago at Whole Foods. For the two lovely ladies I spoke with at the check out counter, I apologize for my tardiness in this post, but I’m hoping that the “better late than never” rule will apply here.
Ever since I had my friend Melissa’s homemade vegan, gluten free granola bars at our Mammoth Yoga Retreat in March, I’ve been meaning to try my hand at the recipe (Melissa has a company called Karma Chow http://karmachow.com/, and was Tony Horton’s private chef for a long time. No big deal.). They didn’t call for chia seeds, but recipes exist to be tampered with, and so, I tampered away. The recipe didn’t call for maple syrup or sunflower seeds either, but that is what I had on hand, so that is what I used. That’s the beauty of cooking: in a lot of cases, you can use what you have in your pantry instead of an ingredient you either don’t have on hand, or would prefer not to use!
Please feel free to make your own substitutions to the recipe based on your favorite flavors and textures!
GLUTEN FREE VEGAN HOMEMADE GRANOLA BARS with Chia Seeds adapted from Melissa Costello’s original recipe
Makes 14 1.5 x 4.5 inch bars
2 cups of gluten free crispy brown rice cereal
2 cups of gluten free rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mills is always great)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or any dried fruit combination you want)
1/2 cup golden raisins (or any dried fruit combination you want)
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (or any chopped nut you want: walnuts, pecans, peanuts, etc.)
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup chopped almonds (or any chopped nut you want)
1 cup honey (or brown rice syrup)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (or molasses if you like that flavor)
1/4 cup almond butter
3/4 cup peanut butter (you can use any nut butter you want, and you can even choose 1 kind and make it a full cup instead of a combo like I did)
1 tsp vanilla
1. Put all the dry ingredients into a big bowl and mix it together so it’s well combined.
2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm up the honey, syrup, nut butters and vanilla. Stir as it heats up, ensuring that it is all incorporated. Don’t let it boil.
3. Once it’s all combined, remove from the heat. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients. Mix with a metal spoon or silicone spatula until all the dry ingredients have been coated with the honey mixture.
4. Line a 9×13 inch baking dish or pan with parchment paper. Spray the sides with canola or coconut oil to ensure nothing sticks.
5. Dump your granola mixture into the dish/pan and spread evenly. I found that a silicone spatula worked well and didn’t stick. If you don’t have one and you’re having trouble with the granola sticking while you’re trying to spread it evenly, wet your hands and use your fingers.
6. Set aside to cool. Once they are completely cool, flip them out onto a cutting board, preferably one that does have a faint aroma of onions and garlic! Cut them into the sizes you want.
They will stay fresh for up to one week if you put them in an airtight container.
If you’re feeling inspired (yay, you!) you can get all Martha Stewart and make them into little gifts: wrap them in wax paper and tie a nice string around them, and voila: you’re Ina Garten and you don’t care who knows it! As she would say, how easy is that?
Please feel free to share the combinations you have decided to use with this recipe – I would love to hear them!! And Ina, if you’re listening – I heart you.