Eating for Life

Eating for Life | Rich in omega 3, chia seeds replace fat in muffins

Cherry Chia Walnut Muffins

are flecked with — sing it with me now — ch-ch-ch-chia seeds.

Yup. We’re talking the same seeds as the Ch-ch-ch-chia Pet.

But instead of sprouting, chia seeds mixed with water form a gel that acts as a fat-replacer in baked goods. The seeds can also be eaten straight from the bag. (One store I found them in offers tiny tubes called “chia shots,” presumably for a midday pick-me-up.)

When Dr. Oz (

) aired a segment on chia seeds last year, Elaine Billaci, health market manager of the Hy-Vee in Shawnee, scrambled to fill the requests from consumers eager to try an ancient food that is reported to help keep blood pressure and blood sugar on an even keel.

Chia seeds were a staple of the Mayan diet. The word “chia” means strength, and the Mayans knew these seeds could increase stamina and energy. Ounce for ounce, chia seeds contain more omega 3 than salmon. A single serving of chia provides 42 percent of your daily fiber requirement.

• Shopping tip:

Don’t eat the seeds that come with your Chia Pet. Food-grade, raw white chia seeds are available at many Hy-Vee health markets and at Whole Foods in the bulk foods and supplements aisle.

Makes 12 servings 4 teaspoons chia seeds, divided2 tablespoons water1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided2 teaspoons baking powder1 teaspoon baking soda1/4 teaspoon salt2 tablespoons butter, cut in small even pieces3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts2 egg whites3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk2 tablespoons canola oil1/2 teaspoon almond extract1/3 cup finely chopped dried cherries

Mix 1 teaspoon chia seeds and 2 tablespoons water in a medium mixing bowl. Allow to stand at room temperature 30 minutes. (This will become a gel.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup flour, oats, 2/3 cup brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together remaining 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or two knives until mixture is even crumbs. Stir in walnuts. Set aside.

Add egg whites, buttermilk, oil and almond extract to chia-water mixture and whisk together until blended. Pour liquid ingredients into flour mixture and stir, blending just until moistened. Stir in cherries. Spoon into prepared muffin pan, filling each well about half full. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with walnut mixture, dividing evenly over the muffins.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool 5 to 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack.

Per muffin: 176 calories (30 percent from fat), 6 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 6 milligrams cholesterol, 27 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 280 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.