Chia seeds or basil seeds
Ocimum basilicum also known as the basil plant is native to India and the Mediterranean regions. It is considered as a symbol of hospitality in India while it's commonly used as a herb garnish in dishes in some part of Europe. There are different sort of basil: Asian use Thai basil while Italians use sweet basil. Although the use of basil seeds is not very common, it is used to make medicinal drinks and is very common in Asian drinks too.
Chia seeds have a different origin and story. Salvia hispanica, the botanical name of chia plant is native to Mexico and Guatemala. The seeds were cultivated by the Aztecs and used as a source of energy food by Aztecs warriors to give them energy and endurance. It is now widely used in North and South America as sprinkle in salads or smoothies.
Chia seeds come in different colors:
grey, brown, white and black and have an oval shape.
Basil seeds are smaller in size,
they are black and have a round/oval shape.
Their nutritional benefit
The main difference between chia and basil seeds: while both seeds need to be soaked in liquids, chia seeds can also be consumed raw as sprinkle.
Chia is a rich source of antioxidants, fibre, calcium, protein and other key minerals and are great for energy boosters. Chia seeds are also considered a "super food". They help maintain healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels in the body, they promote healthy skin, reduce signs of aging, help build stronger bones and muscles and more.
Basil seeds are a powerful source of iron and therefore they improve quality of the blood as well as helping digestion. They have a cooling effect and are great to use in drinks to help digestion.
How to use them
What makes these seeds so wonderful is their ability to absorb up to 10 times their weight in water and make you feel fuller for longer. Mixed with any liquid they swell up and become a gel like consistency and can be added to porridge, smoothies or can be used to make chia or basil seeds puddings.
To show you how the seeds expand in water, I put 1 tablespoon of each in a glass with 2 tablespoon of water.
Basil seeds plump up almost instantly as shown in the first picture and chia seeds take a bit longer. In the last picture, I added more water to the basil seeds glass as there were still some black seeds wanting to expand.
This is another big difference between the two seeds: you could use your gelatinous basil seeds mixture after all the seeds have expanded while it's usually recommended to let chia seeds soak overnight, as the seeds may still expand in your stomach if not soaked long enough.
I have let both mixture soaked overnight.
In the first picture: the basil seeds is now a gloopy gelatinous mixture. While you can let the seeds soak overnight, this can be obtained after 20mins.
In the second picture: the chia seeds have the same gloopy gel like mixture. For instant chia, mix the seeds with your liquid on full power for couple of minutes in your mixer.
Basil seeds mixture have a softer texture with a slight crunch while chia seeds mixture is chewier in consistency. Both are tasteless that's why they are so easy to incorporate in your diet as you can get the health benefits of the seeds without having to adjust on taste.
What I love about these seeds is how versatile they can be!! You can make a pudding with it, add it to your overnight oats, to your smoothie bowls. It's endless. Here are my top favorites way to enjoy them.
Overnight chia and banana pudding
Such a classic combo
1/4 cups of chia seeds
1 cup ot your liquid of choice (i use non dairy)
For added sweetness: honey or maple syrup
Mix and keep in fridge. In the morning add your favorite toppings: nuts, berries, cacao nibs et Voila
Peanut butter porridge with chia
Cook 1/2 cup of oats with 1 cup of almond (any milk you like). Add 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and 1 or 2 tablespoon of chia seeds mixture (one you have already prepared) Add honey or maple syrup for sweetness.
Smoothie bowl topped with basil seeds
Make any smoothie you like a bit thicker. Add your favorite toppings and couple of tablespoon of basil seeds mixture.