Friday, September 7, 2012

Food for Thought Friday: Chia Seeds

 Yes, I know what you're thinking.

Admit it; you started singing, didn't you?

But did you know these little seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition?

For centuries, ancient Indian cultures have used this seed for its nutritional and medicinal properties.  Supposedly 1 tablespoon of seeds would sustain an Aztec warrior for 24hrs.  The seeds were also used to alleviate joint pain and soothe skin conditions (most likely because of the high Omega- 3 content of the seeds).  

Chia seeds supply protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins (especially B vitamins), minerals (especially calcium and boron), essential fatty acids and antioxidants.  Preliminary studies are showing that chia seeds can help keep blood pressure and blood sugar in check.

Chia seeds can absorb up to 25 times their weight in water.  This resulting gelatin can help to keep you hydrated and feeling fuller longer.  For endurance athletes, the ability to hold water can decrease the risk of dehydration.  Since chia seeds are easily digested, they are also a good source of energy and electrolytes. 

So how can you take advantage of the nutritional benefits of chia seeds?

Chia seeds are easily added to many dishes without changing the flavor.  I like to add mine to smoothies, yogurt and salads.  You can also mix the seeds into any baked good recipe (muffins, pancakes, cookies...) or even sprinkle on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  

Two traditional ways to use chia seeds are in pinole and chia fresca.  Pinole can be eaten like an oatmeal, baked into a cookie- like texture or taken as a drink.  Chia fresca is a refreshing drink to start your day.


½ cup ground cornmeal (as fine as possible)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey
Chia seeds

Toast the cornmeal in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until light brown.  Transfer to a bowl and mix in the cinnamon, sweetener and chia seeds.  Add water to desired consistency.

Add a lot of water to make a drink.  A few tablespoons of water will give you an oatmeal- like dish.  You can then take the paste, spread it a pan and bake at 350* for 10-15 minutes to create a cookie. 

Experiment with adding fruits or nuts to create a mixture and flavor that you prefer.

Chia Fresca

About 10 oz water
2 teaspoons chia seeds
Lemon or lime juice to taste
Honey (or other sweetener) to taste

Stir the chia seeds into water, let sit for about 5 minutes and stir again.  The longer you let it sit, the more gel- like it becomes.  Add the juice and sweetener to taste.

What about adding chia seeds to your animals diets?

Adding chia seeds to your chicken feed can increase the Omega- 3 content of their eggs and of the meat.  Feeding it to your cows can increase the Omega- 3’s in their milk and in the meat.   

With all the nutritional benefits of this little seed, how are you going to add it to your diet?

1 comment:

  1. Gosh, I forgot how I got here...there was a link to you from somewhere. Blame it on the pregnancy brain! Anyway, thank you for this post!!! My husband picks up an "energy" drink from the health food store with chia seeds but it's hard to find and quite expensive. The recipe you posted sounds like a great alternative!

    If I wanted to include it in my smoothies do I need to take the seeds out after its sits in water? I'm assuming not, seems like the seeds are edible but just wouldn't want to create a strange texture. Or do I just throw the seeds in with the smoothie?

    And, this is good even if you are pregnant right?