An original post? Chia as a fat replacement!

Hey all –

I’m now in my second semester of the MS of Nutrition program. The first was a lot of basic stuff that didn’t lend itself to sharing. Biochem (painful and not really nutrition oriented), biostats, community nutrition and food service management – not really thrilling stuff.

This semester though I have Advanced Nutrition, Advanced Food Sciences and a Research class. The first two look really promising to finally start learning.. well what I wanted to go to school for.

For advanced food science we have to write a proposal substituting something into a recipe to make it healthier. From there we’ll analyze it with a bunch of tools and do taste tests. Here’s my rough draft. I think it’s an interesting idea! My project may not get done in our lab, but I think I’ll give it a go at home. Thought I’d share!

1. Introduction and Overall Goal

            Obesity, and associated conditions, affect 97 million Americans and are the second leading cause of preventable deaths. Associated conditions include high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and other health problems.1  Foods high in fat are also high in calories, as fat has a high energy density. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans concluded that diets low in energy density aid in weight loss and weight maintenance.2  

Besides completely changing diet, one way to reduce calorie and fat consumption is to produce foods lower in fat.  This has varying levels of success, as fat adds to sensory enjoyment, such as mouth feel, moisture and texture. Fat also traps air and aids in structure.3  For a fat replacer to be acceptable, it must maintain functional and sensory characteristics.4

Chia seeds have been successfully substituted as a fat and egg replacer in cake and Chia flour has been used to increase the nutrient profile of bread. 4, 5 The purpose of this project is to extend that research to brownies, as they have a different texture and color than the previous baked goods tested.  Chia would be used to substitute fat at 35%, 45%., and 55%  Previously 25% was shown to show no significant difference for color, taste, texture and overall acceptability, while above 50% showed a decrease in volume. 4 This project would seek to find the level that is most acceptable to consumers while increasing the nutritional benefits derived from chia.

2. Background

Salvia hispanica L, more commonly known as Chia seeds, are native to Southern Mexico and Guatemala.  They contain a high amount of oil at 25-38%, sixty percent of which is alpha-linolenic fatty acid.  This is the highest known percentage from a plant-based source. They are also a good sources of protein, dietary fiber and phenolic antioxidant compounds.6   Evidence shows that diets high in fiber and alpha-linolenic fatty acids aid in diseases associated with obesity.7,8

Previous substitution in cake has shown that including chia seeds in place of fat lowered calories from fat, as well as also reduced saturated fat and improved the fatty acid profile.  Functional properties of the cake were not statistically different from the control cake at below a 50% substitution. Above 50%, cake began to lose volume and became more dense.  Sensory results indicated that at high levels of substitution, from 50%-75%, panelists rated the sensory evaluation as “neither like nor dislike.”  In our project, we would seek to find the level of chia where individuals polled still overall liked the product and functional properties were maintained from the control.


1. National Institute of Health Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults . Circulation 1998.

2. Pérez-Escamilla R, Obbagy J, Altman J, Essery E, McGrane M, Wong Y, Spahn J, Williams C. Dietary energy density and body weight in adults and children: a systematic review. J Acad Nutr Diet 2012; 112(5):671-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.01.020

3. . Hahn,N. Replacing Fat With Food Technology: A brief review of new fat replacement ingredients. J.Am.Diet.Assoc 1997;97:15-16.

4. Borneo R, Aguirre A, Leon A. Chia (Salvia hispanica L) Gel Can Be Used as Egg or Oil Replacer in Cake Formulations. J Acad Nutr Diet 2010; 110(6):946-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.03.011

5. Iglesias-Puig E, Haros M. Evaluation of performance of dough and bread incorporating chia (Salvia hispanica L.). Eur Food Res Technol 2013;237:865–874.doi 10.1007/s00217-013-2067-x

 6. Cyléia S, Costa B, Celestino H, Fernandes P, Schuelter J, Oliveira O, Evelázio N, , Vergílio J. Antioxidant capacity and chemical composition in seeds rich in omega-3: chia, flax, and perilla Food Sct Technol 2013; 33(3):541-548.

 7. Ailhaud G, Massiera F ,Weill P, Legrand P, Alessandri J, Guesnet P. Temporal changes in dietary fats: Role of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in excessive adipose tissue development and relationship to obesity. Progress in Lipid Research 2006; 45(3):2013-236. DOI: 10.1016/j.plipres.2006.01.003

8. Slavin, J. Dietary fiber and body weight. Nutrition 2005;32(3):411-418. DOI: 10.1016/j.nut.2004.08.018


Dietary Fiber Nibbles Down Stroke Risk

By Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner

Eating more fiber may modestly reduce the risk of stroke, although details remain uncertain and it might just be a surrogate for other healthy behaviors.

Point out that the findings support dietary recommendations to increase intake of total dietary fiber, currently recommended at 21 grams per day for women and 30 for men.

Eating more fiber may modestly reduce the risk of stroke, although details remain uncertain and it might just be a surrogate for other healthy behaviors, a meta-analysis determined. Continue reading

Why should I eat…. Eggplant


Making some ratatouille again today. I got to thinking – what makes eggplant unique?

Here’s the brief on it’s goodness from wh foods

  • Eggplant is an excellent source of digestion-supportive dietary fiber and bone-building manganese. It is very good source of enzyme-catalyzing molybdenum and heart-healthy potassium. Eggplant is also a good source of bone-building vitamin K and magnesium as well as heart-healthy copper, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and niacin. Eggplant also contains phytonutrients such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid.

Here’s another interesting blurb –

When laboratory animals with high cholesterol were given eggplant juice, their blood cholesterol, the cholesterol in their artery walls and the cholesterol in their aortas (the aorta is the artery that returns blood from the heart back into circulation into the body) was significantly reduced, while the walls of their blood vessels relaxed, improving blood flow. These positive effects were likely due not only to nasunin but also to several other terpene phytonutrients in eggplant.

Nasunin is not only a potent free-radical scavenger, but is also an iron chelator. Although iron is an essential nutrient and is necessary for oxygen transport, normal immune function and collagen synthesis, too much iron is not a good thing. Excess iron increases free radical production and is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Menstruating women, who lose iron every month in their menstrual flow, are unlikely to be at risk, but in postmenopausal women and men, iron, which is not easily excreted, can accumulate. By chelating iron, nasunin lessens free radical formation with numerous beneficial results, including protecting blood cholesterol (which is also a type of lipid or fat) from peroxidation; preventing cellular damage that can promote cancer; and lessening free radical damage in joints, which is a primary factor in rheumatoid arthritis.

Eggplant is in season especially in August through October so eat up! A healthy way of eating it besides ratatouille is babaganoush. (garlic, tahini (ground sesame seeds), lemon juice and olive oil? How can you go wrong with that!)


Dietary Fiber: Insoluble and Soluble Fiber

What’s the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber?

Insoluble fiber stays mostly intact in your GI tract, adding bulk and pushing things along. Helps prevent diverticulitis. (Little pouches int he lining of your GI tract that can collect food)

Sources: whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, grapes, fruit, and root vegetable skins.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and turns into a gel (ever try Metamucil and let it sit for more than 10 seconds?) The gel slows down digestion and makes you feel fuller. It also helps blood sugar levels and aids in reducing cholesterol. 

Sources: oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots.

How much? 

The USDA currently recommends about 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories a day.

Nutty Strawberry Banana Breakfast Quinoa

Looks so yummy! Can’t wait to try this –



Nutty Strawberry Banana Breakfast Quinoa {Vegan & Gluten-Free} | Ambitious Kitchen

Nutty Strawberry Banana Breakfast Quinoa {Vegan & Gluten-Free} | Ambitious Kitchen.

My great friends daughter started this blog Ambitious Kitchen and it has become very popular. She is a wonderful cook and baker. Way to go Monique.

I will be trying this recipe soon


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The incredible, edible… lentil!


In an effort to lower the amount of BPA I consume (and to NOT pay $4.29 per Amy’s Organic Lentil soup can, which still contains BPA. Thank you NYC for that price hike.) I made my first soup yesterday. It’s still bubbling along this morning and I have to say I’m sold!

Here’s why you should consider adding lentils to your diet too:

  • Low Cost: I bought a huge bag of green lentils for under ten dollars at Costco.
  • Protein: Lentils have the largest amount of protein per weight of any plant based food.
  • Easy: to both digest and cook. Because of their smaller size they cook faster than other legumes.
  • Fiber: They contain both soluble and insoluble types.  (Which keeps you fuller, lowers cholesterol, … More on fiber to come soon.)
  • Nutrients: They’re a good source of Folate, Iron, Vitamin B and Potassium, among others.
  • Blood Sugar Stability: thanks to fiber they help to maintain balanced blood sugar levels

In a crock pot I added about 7 cups of water to two (soaked overnight) cups of lentils. I added a couple of stalks of celery, a couple of carrots, corn, some tomatoes, broccoli – really any veggies I had on hand. I also threw in some salt, pepper, olive oil, and basil and parsley from the garden. It’s been simmering away for about 8 hours. The recipe I found online said it should be done by now but I’ve noticed the lentils seem a bit too tough and the longer I’ve let it sit the yummier it gets.

Let me know if you try it or if there’s anything else you think I should add to it! About to help myself to another bowl.

Why soluble fiber lowers cholesterol… (ya always hear it does but here is why)

I thought this was a cool fact. You always hear that fiber lowers cholesterol, but the why seems like a mystery. Here’s the scoop –

Bile helps you digest food. Basically in your stomach fat forms a layer on top and doesn’t mix in with the water soluble areas. Bile is an emulsifier and helps mix that up. After leaving the stomach, bile is reabsorbed by the small intestine and recycled. BUT if it sticks to some soluble fiber it continues on down and into your toilet. Your body needs bile so it makes more – and has to take from cholesterol in your body to make it, which lowers your overall levels of cholesterol. Voila!

Also to note – not all cholesterol is bad. It makes sex hormones, adrenal hormones, and vitamin D (as well as, obviously, bile). It’s also essential for the structure of our cell membranes.

Some easy sources of soluble fiber:

  • oatmeal/oat bran
  • lentils and beans
  • fruits and veggies
  • nuts
  • flaxseed