Eek of the Week: Chia Obama

Spotted before last Christmas, offered in plenty of time for the lucky recipient to have Washington, Lincoln or Obama  – sorry, Texas, no Reagan –  to be in full greenery by Presidents Day. Still not on the clearance counter, however.

According to wikipedia “The Chia Pet was first used on September 8, 1977, and aside from its name, the Chia Pet is not a patented invention. The first Chia Pet was the ram, marketed and distributed in 1982.” They must mean trademarked; you can’t patent a name.

Bust embellishment notwithstanding, chia (salvia hispanica) isn’t an ornamental. It’s a food crop,  native to Central America, where its highly nutritious seeds have been part of the diet for at least 3000 years.

As far as I know, the Aztecs – who were eating a lot of chia when the conquistadores got there – didn’t adorn their terra cotta sculptures with wooly green mats. But they may have been missing an opportunity.  Joseph Enterprises, the company that manufactures the pets, reportedly had 98,000 employes in 2008.

Jeff Koons’  Puppy (1992) has already sucked up all the air in the irony department, so I have nothing else to say except don’t despair. The planting time that revives hope and brings change is just around the corner.

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  • minnie biggs Said,

    Have you tried baking bread with chia? am about to do so, stay tuned!

  • minnie biggs Said,

    Ok, here goes!
    My palate prefers the crispy crunchy to the soft and smooth. When I saw what happens to chia seed when placed in water, YUK! Everything I dislike in a food item- gluggy, gelatinous. I persevered, however.

    A quarter cup of chia seeds in half a cup of water, 15 min. added to my usual power bread ingredients-
    I cup of oats soaked in 2-3 (depending on how many loaves to bake) cups of hot water
    mixed into a nugget of yeast which has soaked in 1/2 cup warm water with abut as much plain flour. preferably left overnight to sour up a little. Then small handfulls of toasted sesame,(raw) sunflower, and flax seeds; soy flour, buckwheat, wheat germ, rye flour, wheat and or oat bran, barley flour, wholewheat spelt , and salt, with more organic white flour added as necessary to make the right consistency to knead. Till smooth and together. Then let to rise, and then turned out into loaf tins, rise again, and 35 min in (400 degree?) then turned down a little if its a hottie oven plus another 10 min resting with oven turned down, nearly off.

    Different was the consistency of the dough while working: it was damper and also more easily together. That glue!

    The loaf also seems to stay fresh, less dry for longer. Not entirely sure how I feel about the chia, and how much taste or texture difference there is; next time might leave out the other seeds, although I love them sooo much. Constantly thinking about all that life saving omega three and other good bits.

    • Leslie Said,

      Thanks so much for the report, Minnie. I’m with you on the gluggy and glutinous but it sounds as though that wasn’t a problem in the finished product and that the bread was a big success! If I’m reading you right, the chia acted as a dough conditioner, nutrient enhancer and preservative, all without mucking up the taste of what must be delicious bread. Can’t imagine why you’d want to leave out all the other seeds; if I were you I’d declare victory right now and just add soaked chia to my seed assortment.

  • minnie biggs Said,

    Wouldn’t you agree it was best to leave out the caraway seed first time around?

    You are right- I am off and running.

    Then I read about Trader Joe’s- am going to San Francisco next month- selling almond butter with flax seed. What about adding chia- soaked? to nut butters? Occurred to me that the glugginess would blend right in and we would have a super nutritious snack food?? No one seems to be PLAYING with chia- let’s go!

  • Margaret Said,

    For more information about chia seeds, and some recipe ideas, check out my website:

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