“My Superfoods” – Chia Seeds

Many of you write to me, usually after I post a recipe, asking about some of the “not so common” ingredients that I use.

So I thought, why not do a series of posts on some of “my” superfoods. Superfood is a label given to a lot of different foods that pack a nutritional punch, but in my opinion I have certain foods that I have incorporated into my diet for personal reasons so that makes those foods, my superfoods! 🙂 And, to be honest it could get quite costly for me to just go out and buy anything with the label “superfood” so I’ve done my research and use on a daily basis the foods I’ll be writing about. I believe in the nutritional properties of these foods and love how they make me feel.

Should we get started?

Today I gonna ramble a bit about CHIA SEEDS.

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In the right of the photo, that is a tbsp of chia seeds.

What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are an ancient superfood and were once a daily staple among the Aztec, Mayan, and Inca cultures. In fact, the word chia means “strength” in Mayan and the seeds were used by the these cultures as sustenance for messengers who would go on long running missions, or by soldiers in battle.
Today many endurance athletes tout the power of chia seeds for endurance training.

These little black and white seeds are very small, and closely resemble poppy seeds. According to naturalnews.com chia seeds are actual part of the sage family.

Why should I eat chia seeds?

Chia seeds are little nutritional powerhouses. Seriously.
Here are some of their benefits:
– chia seeds are naturally gluten free and more easily digestible than flax seed
– they contain 5g of dietary fiber in just one tablespoon, more antioxidants than blueberries, and more iron than spinach
– chia seeds are a complete protein with all the essential amino acids
– they contain 5xs more calcium than milk, and 7xs more vitamin C than an orange
– these little seeds are chock full of omega -3 and omega- 6  which are essential fatty acids for our bodies
– chia seeds have water absorbing qualities and can help keep you hydrated and bulk up the food you eat with volume and nutrition, not calories
– 
Chia slows the impact of sugars on your system, if eaten together. Chia gel (made with chia & water) creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, which slows the conversion of carbs into sugar. This is fantastic news for diabetics, and could possibly help in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
Now to get up close and personal…when you add chia seeds to your food the chia bulks up and sweeps through your digestive tract helping to clean up old waste and clear out your intestines. And who doesn’t want to poop better? I thought so. 🙂 

What do you think? Are you convinced yet?

How do I incorporate chia into my diet?

There are many ways to make chia part of your daily noshing since you can pretty much use it how you would use any other seed sprinkled on top of salads, soups, smoothies, etc. However, I thought I would share a few of the simple ways that I use chia in my kitchen.

1.) As an egg replacer – Chia seeds mixed with water make a great egg replacer, for when you are out of eggs, or you have a vegan guest. Combine 1 Tbsp. of chia seeds  with 3 Tbsp. of water. Set aside for about 10-15 minutes. The chia will absorb the water and form a gelatinous consistency just like that of an egg.

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2.) My morning oatmeal – when I make my morning oatmeal I usually add 2 Tbsp. of chia seeds right into the pot. It gives the oatmeal volume, keeps the hubby full until lunch, and gives us both an extra shot of protein, essential fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, and iron. WOOT!
3.) Overnight oats – check out this recipe for overnight oatmeal, it is delicious, and nutritious.

4.) In Smoothies – I like to add a few tbsps of chia to our morning smoothies, just put them in the blender with all your other ingredients and blend. I think this is the best way for beginners to start incorporating chia seeds, as the gelatinous texture that naturally occurs with chia & liquid doesn’t appear in a smoothie because the chia gets blended up with everything else. For an added nutritional bonus sprinkle some on top.

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5.) Granola – often when I make granola I toss a 1/4-1/2 cup chia seeds into the mix. Baked with all the other ingredients they take on a yummy, crunchy texture.
6.) In baking – chia seeds are fun to add to muffin recipes, scones, cookies, cakes etc…and to me, almost resemble poppy seeds in texture.

Where do I buy chia & how much does it cost?

I buy my chia seeds online here. If you buy the 5lb. bag it comes out to about $9/lb. + shipping, which is a good price, and I don’t have a whole lot of other options. 🙂

Yes…it is true that a lot of chia comes from Mexico, and I live in Mexico. They sell chia here, and about 2 years ago it was a screaming deal…about $4/kilo (2.2lbs). I know right, I should have stocked up then. Recently I don’t know who spilled the beans, but they must have found out how much chia was going for up north, and the price spiked like crazy, and now it is very comprable to how much chia would cost in a health food store in the states.

Chia Recipes to try:

Writing this post made me want to get even more creative with chia, so I did some recipe research, these all look SO good:

Cinnamon Banana Chia Seed Pudding

Watermelon Strawberry Chia Cooler

Happy Crackers

Grain Free Pumpkin Bread

Green Dip w/ Feta

Chia Protein Oat Bran (forgot how much I LOVE oat bran)

Mushroom & Chia Soup

ALSO I created a fall-inspired Pumpkin Spice Latte Chia Pudding that we enjoyed for breakfast this morning. I need to make a few tweaks to the recipe, but I’ll be posting it next week. 🙂

Are you ready to try chia seeds? Or is all this just sounding a little weird? If you are familiar with chia, what is your favorite use? 

Cheers to new “chiadventures!” (I know chees-er)

Liesl

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