Basil Seeds - Move Over Chia Seeds

Updated: Apr 8

Have you ever heard of Basil Seeds? These little black seeds swell up just like Chia seeds but have more nutrients than Chia Seeds.

Wendy Behenna April 5, 2022

Basil seeds typically come from the sweet basil plant, Ocimum basilicum. They are a black seed that looks similar to black sesame seeds. They are sometimes referred to as Sweet Basil Seeds but can go by other names including sabja or tukmaria seeds. Basil seeds swell very similar to chia seeds and have that mucilaginous feel when consuming along with a bit of a crunch.

History of Basil Seeds

Basil seeds have a long history in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Natural healers and Ayurveda thought that basil seeds could act as an adaptogen and cleanse the body of toxins and give a boost of energy.

The sweet basil plant where the seeds come from is often called "King of herbs" because there are so many uses for this plant in medicine, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and food industry.

Basil leaves can be used fresh or dried and add great flavour to our food. The seeds are commonly used in Asian countries such as Iran and India and added to beverages and frozen desserts like ice cream. In Europe and North America they are not as widely known and are just beginning to be used in food.

Health Benefits

Basil seeds are a source of protein, omega 3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, minerals, flavonoids, and potentially a good antioxidant. In comparison to Chia seeds, basil seeds are thought to have 2X the fiber, 2X the potassium, 2x the calcium, and 2X the iron. Basil

Maeima Kapur - Unsplash seeds have many of the properties

that fall into the superfood category. Studies are showing they have may be beneficial in health and disease prevention due to the remarkable properties they are discovering about these seeds. Basil seeds are also a good flavourless thickener and stabilizer that could be used in certain recipes.

Ways to Use Basil Seeds

Basil seeds can be used in the same way one might use chia seeds. When you see chia seeds in a recipe, just substitute the basil seeds. Basil seeds add that extra boost of nutrients over chia seeds. I like using basil seeds to make puddings and stir into fruit teas to Marc Mintel - Unsplash make a healthier version of a bubble tea without using tapioca. Iced teas, lemonade or smoothies are also good drink ideas. The center of the Basil Seed remains black after swelling, adding a little crunch when you chew it - similar to tapioca. Another idea is to stir 1 Tbsp. of basil seeds into 3/4 cup of water in a small dish and let them hydrate. Soak for about 15 minutes to absorb the water. They will swell to approximately triple their original size. Store them in the fridge and stir them into any type of dessert or breakfast bowl to make it thicker.

Using Basil Seeds in Recipes

As I mentioned previously, you can substitute basil seed where ever you come across a recipe that calls for chia seeds.

Zen Basil is the company I buy my organic basil seeds from. Here is their recipe page: Basil Seed Recipes — Zen Basil | Organic Basil Seeds | High Fiber Superfoods

Turmeric Basil Seed Pudding

This pudding is super quick to make but does take some time in the fridge for the basil seeds to swell. This snack is filling and boosts anti-inflammatory properties as well.

Chocolate Cherry Overnight Oats with Basil Seeds

This is a delicious chocolate flavoured breakfast or afternoon snack that you can control the sweetness of. The addition of maple syrup or honey is optional so try it on its own first to see if you can skip the added sweetness. This is a good transition to cutting out sugary tasting food in your diet.

Raspberry Basil Seed Fresca

This refreshing drink is sure to please on a warm summer's day. The basil seeds add some extra thickening to this drink making it more satiating. You could easily change up the fruit and flavour of the tea to make your own custom drink.

Wendy Behenna is a retired Medical Laboratory Technologist who now uses the kitchen as a "lab" to create healthy, real food dishes. As a graduate of the Culinary Nutrition Program, she wants to share the knowledge she acquired to help people with meal planning and cooking skills, especially those transitioning to a gluten-free and dairy-free lifestyle. She is also a Certified Tea Sommelier and loves incorporating tea in her recipes when possible.

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