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Linda Barrett is a master baker and health enthusiast who rediscoverd the chia seed as a food source more than 20 years ago. She has been a passionate advocate for developing Chia seed agriculture and incorporating Chia into our nutrition.  Linda  offers consultation on Chia recipe development to companies who want to use Chia to optimize the nutritional value of their baked products.

THE ORIGINAL CHIA-FOOD ADVOCATE

Biography of Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett is a lifelong healthy eating advocate and a passionate, professional baker who in the search for a seed with excellent adhesive properties for topping breads, rediscovered the chia seed as a food source in 1989. 

She has spent more than two decades educating others about the many benefits of Chia as a superfood.  In the U.S. and Canada, prior to Linda's work, Chia was known only as the seed used in Chia Pets - it wasn't even considered as a food source!  However, by 1991 the National Food Labs analysis of Linda's recipes confirming her claim of outstanding nutritional results had already been completed.  Linda is not new to Chia - she is the mother of modern Chia-based foods which are now hitting the mainstream media.  Through her company, Linda provides consultation, food formulations and recipe development to companies who want to optimize the nutritional value of their products by including these seeds. 

Linda Barrett’s earliest memories are of cooking and baking in the kitchen, where her mother allowed her complete freedom, from as far back as she can remember. She remembers deciding to become a healthy recipe developer at about age 6 while looking at the garden that she had helped her uncle grow and thinking that hot dogs (veggie-dogs that she was raised on) didn’t grow that way, they were a manufactured food. She looked at all the different vegetables growing in the garden and thought the possibilities are endless of what could be invented. 

She continued her love for cooking and baking and when she was 14 her parents sent her and her sister to a boarding school in Austria.  Being very adventurous sisters, they both decided they would learn more if they traveled. They decided to go to Basel, Switzerland to work in a Bakery/Café, owned by a girlfriend of their mother’s. She gladly gave them room and board in exchange for working in the bread and pastry bakery. This is when Linda decided she wanted to own a bakery herself one day. When she returned from Switzerland she went to the small hot farming town of Avenal in the San Joaquin Valley where her parents had relocated while they were away for a year. 

Linda was an almond farmer for 10 years until her almond processing plant burned down which led to the decision to leave farming.  Linda and her mother Ida then founded a successful mail order gourmet almond business called Suisse Famiglia Confections and that was her first food packaged food business. It was an upscale gift box of 7 different imported Swiss chocolate flavors of almond brittle, beautifully wrapped in tins and gift boxes.

By the second year Linda, realized the confections were primarily a seasonal business. So, she decided to create a nutritious ‘daily’ food product and re-orient the business to healthy food products for regular consumption.

While putting away pinto beans one evening, she thought “bread”...“I could put these beans into bread the way my Mother put left-over cooked oats into bread. The bean/grain combo would create a complete’ protein”. So, the next morning on the California Central Coast in Paso Robles she made her first loaf of  "GardenBread".

She soon learned of the Salvia Hispanica L. seed which is a hydrophilic seed, like the beans and oats she put into the breads, (foods, usually seeds, that absorb a lot of water, aid digestion, lower cholesterol and prevent blood sugar spikes that lead to diabetes). She topped her Chia breads with this gelatinous seed, as well as put them into the bread, which makes the breads rise better and have a soft crust,

There are now over 30 different flavors that have been marketed through her own bakery, some developed into dry mix formulas and are even produced into pizza crusts that are served in the Paso Robles Public School Lunch Program. They are healthy Omega-3 rich breads loved by children and the elderly alike, as they are delicious and easily digested and a ‘complete nutrition’ meal-in-a-loaf.

Linda’s discovery of Salvia Hispanica L. or Chia was such an interesting find that she began to experiment with this seed in other recipes in 1989. She found, to her amazement, that it was not in use in any commercial foods available anywhere! She researched the nutritional content of the seed, as it was obvious by the amount of water that it absorbed that it was very rich in soluble fiber. She found that this is our richest plant source of a renewable, sustainable supply of Omega-3 which is now considered our most important and deficient nutrient in most of the world’s population. This is because of the dwindling supply of uncontaminated fish from the ocean that gather the Omega-3 source from ocean algae. Omega-3, she learned, is essential to optimum brain development from conception and particularly through development of a baby’s brain before birth, and throughout children’s development. Flax seed is a good source, but difficult to add to most recipes especially in children’s diets.

Salvia Hispanica L., Linda discovered, is a seed which can be added to over 90% of all prepared foods without altering flavor and in many cases, such as her Chia Garden Breads and in most baked goods, will enhance flavor and texture of foods to which it is added.  Linda has been so intrigued with the potential of this plant that hasn’t been used commercially since the Aztec Civilization, which she says “grows like a weed” that she centered her company, Chia Menu, around development and marketing of Omega-3 rich foods containing Salvia Hispanica L. or Chia.

Linda believes, from her farming experience and study of plants, that Salvia Hispanica L. is a plant which also offers as much potential in ‘healing’ the earth of global warming, as it is one of the fastest bio-mass producing plants, as it does in supplying what scientists are warning of—our critically short and diminishing supply of Omega-3 essential oils, as our oceans’ harvest diminishes and population rises.

Ironically, Salvia means ‘to save’. Linda raised her 3 children on these nutritious foods and now has 6 grandchildren who all enjoy foods rich in Omega-3 from pancakes/waffles and orange juice in the morning to Omega-3 rich veggie hot dogs wrapped in Omega-3 rich Chia Garden Bread buns and dripping with Omega-3 rich condiments and yummy Omega-3 rich desserts! Chia Menu recipes are ALL child-approved, so are sure to please even the pickiest pallets!

Linda feels so fortunate to have learned of this amazing ingredient that gave her assurance that her children were getting optimum nutrition. She has since perfected hundreds of recipes using this amazing seed that hasn’t been commercially used since the Aztec Civilization when Chia was valued so greatly that its citizens were allowed to pay their taxes with Salvia Hispanica L. seed!  She believes that this #1 most nutritious functional food has the potential to become the most valued and widely used food on earth because of its chameleon-like flavor properties, its versatility of use and great potential to be abundantly grown.