Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gluten-Free Recipes using Chia Seed Slurry

Gluten-Free Chia Seed : Recipe Techniques

Using using Chia Seed "gel" and "slurry" and ice-cubes in GF Creations

Finally, I have gotten back to my blog and writing more about Chia Seed in Gluten-Free / Wheat-Free recipes! I love the Fall season, though I have been distracted lately by things that come with it: like raking.  This is a long-planned followup discussion on Chia Recipes...

In June, I wrote a Gluten-Free Blog entry entitled Gluten-Free Chia Seeds : SuperFood Status (follow that link for prior discussion and where to acquire the product). Last time I introduced Chia Seed basics - like nutritional / diet information, and the texture and look and feel that should be expected. I also mentioned in my previous blog that Chia Seed is an amazing gluten-free recipe addition / ingredient, and I have used the Chia Seed to create some wheat-free / gluten-free baked goods and other food products that are convincingly like the "real" thing, if not better. Pancakes with such alterations are one of my regular favorites, but I have also gone much further with Chia in gluten-free recipes through a new approach I developed for incorporating the Chia with great success.

I have found that the results I can achieve through a particular use of Chia Seed in gluten-free recipes is nothing short of spectacular, and I want to share the approach with others here, hoping that perhaps it can make your gluten-free baking even better. I am not guaranteeing it will make *everything* better, but it has really helped quite a few of my recipes - even recipes that were already quite good - rise to an extraordinary level on the texture / mouth-feel scale, and on the health-scale too. It has worked wonders in gluten-free breads, gluten-free desserts, and all sorts of things.

Get ready to use a "chia slurry" in recipes...

Chia Slurry Formulation

Creating a "chia slurry" is the key to using chia as an easy addition / substitution / alteration / modification ingredient in many recipes. This slurry will end up providing a gluten-like (i.e., "glue like") binding power to recipes while introducing additional moisture and "bounce", elasticity, sponginess, and the like, that you would otherwise associate with Gluten-containing products.

A slurry is quite simply a highly fluid mixture of water and finely divided material - in this case, that material is chia.

Pre-Hydrate the Chia Seed
We start by pre-hydrating our Chia Seed. I simply use between 1.5 and 2 TBSP (Tablespoons) Chia Seed per cup of water. The concentration can be varied, and will alter the recipe outcomes accordingly. Sometimes I want a thicker mixture, other times thinner. The amount of slurry I prepare depends on what I am baking, but for now, let's just say I have a few cups of water, and the corresponding proportion of Chia I mentioned...

Place the chia seed in a bowl, add water, and stir constantly for a while to make sure all seeds submerge in the water. Then, stir every few minutes for a while to make sure the seeds are evenly absorbing water as they expand like little pearl tapioca balls. Within 15-30 minutes, this hydration process is complete, resulting in the following:

Or, a bit closer look at the resulting hydrated Chia Seed mixture:

Now, place this hydrated Chia in a blender. I have my trusty VitaMixer for this task, which does a fine job of creating a slurry from the seeds. Here is the before and after look:


That is pretty much it! You have just created the Chia Slurry to be used in gluten-free recipes where you would otherwise use water, milk, or other liquids (note: some dry-ingredient amount-adjustments may be necessary to achieve optimal substitution and outcome results).

I process (i.e., grind / chop / pulverize) the hydrated Chia into a slurry immediately before I am going to use it in a recipe. I have found this keeps the suspension of particles most consistent, and also it tends to add another important baking element: a bit of air volume (quite useful in breads for example).

You can allow the pre-hydrated Chia Seed to sit around for hours, or days, if you desire, but wait until you are ready to use it in a recipe before mixing it into a slurry. In fact, if you use a lot of Chia in baking your gluten-free recipes, it is a good idea to keep a container of pre-hydrated chia seed in the fridge all ready to go (saves on hydration time later).

My next Gluten-Free Blog postings will discuss some particular recipe alterations using this Chia Slurry. If you can't wait, feel free to go for it and experiment with some recipe alterations yourself.

In the mean time, here's another use for the Chia Slurry that may inspire some inventive recipe creations too...

Frozen Chia Seed / Slurry Ice Cubes!

Another use I have for my slurry concoction that I created on a whim is chia-seed-ice-cubes. Just take that freshly-blended Chia-Seed Slurry and pour it into ice cube trays and immediately freeze.

These frozen chia-mix cubes have proven incredible in making smoother, creamier, dairy-free "shakes" or "smoothies" or slushies, or whatever. They add an amazing texture-smoothing / gelling quality that thickens up a drink without adding anything unhealthy to the recipe; giving frozen drinks some "creaminess" without any cream.

The reason I make the chia ice cubes (instead of just adding regular water-only ice cubes to a blender with pre-hydrated chia seed) is a simple one: achieving optimal coldness and lowest temperature for best shakes, smoothies, and frozen drinks. If you don't freeze the chia like this first, do not expect the same results :)

Have you ever heard of a "diet milkshake"?

Well, get ready for one..., and here is a preview picture of it, my Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Dairy-Free "Diet Milkshake", that I will also post the very simple recipe for quite soon. The funny thing was that, although this recipe seemed timely just a few days ago (when it was 70-degrees out!), it is now near freezing outdoors. Well, either way, I still enjoy my frozen drinks year round :)

I do not mean to tease people by not posting additional recipes this time with the above slurry-making-recipe and discussion, but rather I wanted to keep the baked-goods and frozen-products recipes cleanly apart from the slurry-recipe for organization purposes here on my Gluten-Free Blog (as I will be referencing this blog again for sure).


Here are links to a couple recipes using this chia gel / slurry and ice-cubes to get you started:

Also, check out my prior blog about Gluten-Free Chia Seed for some background information on this ingredient and where to acquire it if you do not already have a supplier.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.


Sarah said...

OOHHH! We live in Alaska, so it's pretty cold at our house already, but MAN does that pumpkin/chocolate/chia seed milkshake look amazing. Hot weather or cold, it's always the right time for a "health" milkshake, I say! (My kiddos agree...) Can't wait for the recipe!

Mike Eberhart said...

Actually, I will let you in on a secret: the recipe is already online, though not on my blog yet :)

Here is a link to the Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Milkshake Recipe - Diet Pumpkin, Chocolate, Spice version; I already have it on our recipe library, and just need time to post a blog entry here about it :)

I will get this blog updated soon, and I hope you enjoy the recipe. I was also hoping the delay gave people time to order some Chia Seed if they did not already have it (or, that can at least remain my excuse for the delay) :)

Lauren said...

Do chia seeds perform differently from flax? How do you add them to things like quick breads?

Thanks for bringing new GF ingredients to light, Mike!

Mike Eberhart said...

Yes, Chia performs completely differently from Flax. Flax does not add the binding-power that Chia does. Chia seeds swell-up like pearl-tapioca balls when exposed to water, and get very gelatinous. Unlike tapioca, they are not just starch, but are rather a high-fiber high-omega-3 seed (somewhat like flax in that regard). Flax is much "heavier" as an ingredient though, and has much more noticeable flavor, and does not have the same gelling properties. As such, Chia Seeds have a rather unique and amazing baking ingredient quality.

re: quick breads. Not quite sure what you mean. I have used them in bread recipes, but I don't know what qualifies as a quick bread. I bake mainly baking-soda leavened (vs. yeast) breads for simplicity and quickness, and they work find for this. I have more experimenting to do with Chia in breads yet, as I have only altered a few recipes thusfar.

Hope that helps. Thanks for posting the questions. m

Unknown said...

This looks very interesting. I will am waiting for recipes.

Anonymous said...

The shake looks delicious and full of nutrients but I am not sure what is meant by "diet". I count about 50-60g of carbs in the entire thing which is more than some people, especially diabetics, should have in an entire meal. It doesn't say how many servings that is supposed to make but the picture implies one large smoothie. I know agave is supposed to be "low glycemic" index but I thought that theory that had yet to be proven.

Anastasia said...

Have you ever tried using them in a gluten free cake recipe

Mike Eberhart said...

Yes, I have tried the chia slurry in cakes, but I am still working out the proportions and experimenting more. I use it regularly in breads, and I view cakes as something quite similar. Early results look promising, and I have more experimentation in mind once I get time. After I have a few publishable gluten-free cake recipes featuring chia seed slurry, I will be sure to let everyone know here on the blog. Thanks for stopping by. m

Erika said...

Wow. Thanks for the introduction to the Chia slurry. This looks promising for baking GF. Have you used it as an egg replacement like flax seed can be used?

Mike Eberhart said...

I have not used it as an "egg replacement" directly, though given the added binding-power that chia brings to recipes, it will certainly have *some* of the egg-effect. As I always recommend on my gluten-free blog: experiment and adapt your own recipes. I just hope some of these techniques I put out there for everyone to try can be used and extended to improve their gluten-free baking experiences as a whole. enjoy! m