As many long-time EBF readers know, I LOVE chia seeds! My sister texted me a few nights ago asking for more info about them, which made me realize it was time for little refresher post on why I think chia seeds are so great. If you’re an avid blog reader, some of this info might be old news, but for everyone else here’s what you need to know about one of my favorite seeds – the ch-ch-ch-chia! <– I had to do it!
What are chia seeds?
“Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. You may have seen chia sprouts growing on the novelty planters called Chia Pets, but historically, the seeds have been the most important part of the plant. In pre-Columbian times they were a main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets and were the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors. I’ve read that one tablespoon was believed to sustain an individual for 24 hours. The Aztecs also used chia medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin.” - Quoted from Dr.Weil
What do chia seeds taste like?
The flavor is very mild and almost non-existent. When they are combined with liquid they start to form a gel like consistency, so if you were to eat them plain the gelling process will start in your mouth. Although, I don’t often eat them plain, they’re better mixed in things like smoothies or oatmeal.
What are the benefits of eating chia?
They’re a good source of:
- Omega 3 fatty acids - Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning that you need to get from food sources because your body cannot produce them itself. Omega 3’s reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. They’re also said to help with weight reduction related to their regulation of blood sugar levels and insulin.
- Plant-based protein - We all know protein is an essential macronutrient needed for many functions in the body, including muscle building.
- Antioxidants - Anti-oxidants help rid our body of free radicals, which have been linked to cancer and heart disease.
- Fiber – Helps with weight loss by keeping you feeling full, prevents constipation and enhances regularity.
- Magnesium and Potassium – Two minerals needed for good health.
How much chia should I eat daily?
For general purposes of health, nutrition and energy an adult would typically consume about 1-2 tbsp dry seeds daily.
What are the nutritional facts?
1 Tablespoon of dry seeds have about 60 calories, 5 g of Fat, 6 g of Carbohydrate, 6 g of Fiber, 3 g of Protein
Where do you buy chia seeds?
I’ve found them at my local health food store (Ellwood Thompson’s) and at Whole Foods. They can be found in both the bulk section and supplement section. If you don’t have a local health food store, you can buy them online.
What brand do you buy?
Typically I try to buy chia seeds from the bulk bins because that’s where they are the cheapest but I recently had the opportunity to try out a new brand of chia seeds at a local yoga event. After trying them, the company, Health Warrior, offered me a bag to sample. I gladly accepted! Health Warrior was founded in New York, but they’re headquartered here in Richmond, which is awesome because I really love supporting local companies.
And for the record, I’m really feeling like I should be going into battle with all the Health Warrior and Sun Warrior I consume. Isaac was cracking jokes about it just the other day.
So I’ve been using these chia seeds as I normally would by adding them to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, overnight oats, granola bars and baked goods (like these protein bars). I love the little bit of crunch that they add, as well as the thick gel like consistency that forms when they’re combined with liquid. Chia seeds are much easier to use than flax seeds because you don’t have to grind them to make the “gel” or absorb the nutrients.
So, how do you eat them?
- Make chia gel! Chia absorbs 9 times its weight in water, which is the reason behind the 9:1 ratio most people talk about. For thicker or thinner gel, you can adjust the ratio accordingly. 1/3 cup of chia seeds would absorb 3 cups of water, but for a thinner gel that absorbs faster you could also do 1/3 cup of chia seeds to 2 cups of water or other liquid. You simply mix together the chia seeds and water. Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes, stirring with a whisk to prevent clumping. The gel can be stored in the fridge for two weeks and used as a thickener in soups and smoothies, as a egg replacement in baked goods or a binder in bean patties or meat loafs. Chia seeds are great for vegan cooking!
- Drink them! Add chia seeds to water, juice or any other hot/cold drink. Leave them in the liquid for about two minutes before drinking so they absorb some of the liquid.
- Sprinkle them on anything and everything you’d like!
- Try these recipes on Shape.com from Julie of PB Fingers.
Or make one of my favorite recipes, Chia Pudding:
Here’s the recipe for a chia pudding I made last week.
- ¼ cup whole chia seeds
- ¾ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- ½ scoop vanilla brown rice protein powder (Sun Warrior is my fav)
- 1 T rolled oats
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 to 4 drops of liquid stevia, or other natural sweetener
- ½ sliced banana
- ⅛ cup blueberries
- In a bowl, mix together all ingredients except the banana and blueberries.You'll need to stir quite a bit because the protein powder clumps and resists dissolving into the milk. Once everything is well combined, let the mixture sit on the counter or in the fridge for 8-10 minutes. Stir in the banana, top with blueberries and enjoy!
If you’re pressed for time in the morning, you could make it the night before, store it in the fridge and have it for breakfast in the morning, similar to overnight oats. Yum!
Have you tried chia seeds? What are your thoughts?