Chia may sound like something that turns up on TV commercials every Christmas, but it's actually a healthy food ingredient. And it's available in tasty form at the Suwanee Farmers Market.
Tia Severino uses the grain in her cakes, cookies and drinks, which are sold under the Tia's Chia banner. The Tucker resident mixes it all up in a commercial kitchen in Decatur and sells it at various markets, including Suwanee.
Technically known as salvia hispanica, chia is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, according to wikipedia.org, and is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala.
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Its use dates to the 16th century, and it is still used in Mexico and Guatemala, with seeds sometimes ground. Whole seeds are used for nutritious drinks and as a food source.
So it is with Severino, a Northern California native who moved to Georgia in 2003 because she was "tired of the rat race."
She started her business about six months ago, and her mission is to show that foods using chia can taste good as well as be nutritious.
"Very labor intensive" is how she describes preparing the foods for sale. According to the website, her "solid superfuel" comes in three flavors and three forms: Chocolate Carrot, Sweet Potato Pecan, and Apple Almond are enjoyable as Meal Cakes, Cake Bites, and Build Your Own Cupcake Kits.
"I want to show that foods high in protein and fiber can taste good," Severino said.
Despite her California roots, the Atlanta area is growing on her. Her son, now 6, was born in the area, and she says her husband watches her young business with "amused skepticism."
She once regarded herself as a "bit of a tumbleweed." Now, she enjoys being "a bright red marble in a sea of red marbles."