Look out flax seeds. Chia seeds are the new darling super food on the block. Yeah, you heard me, better watch your back.
We here at Prescribe Nutrition have a pretty serious love affair with chia seeds. What are they? I’m so glad you asked.
First of all let me put inquiring minds to rest: yes, they are the same seeds from the chia pet. You know, the little pigs with green hair? That’s chia. These days you’re more likely to run into chia seeds in drinks, snacks, cereals and more. Chia is part of the mint family, Salvia Hispanica. These little powerhouses of nutrition are grown primarily in Mexico and Bolivia, but have been used for centuries in many regions for their dense source of energy, all wrapped up in a teeny tiny package. Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas would use in transit as ‘running food,’ since it was regarded as a mega energy food. In fact, chia is the Mayan word for strength. If that’s not a selling point I don’t know what is. Interested in more historical fun facts? Check out this good ol’ NPR article on chia.
They are incredibly rich in omega-3 fatty acids (important for just about everything), as well as antioxidants, protein, fiber and pack in more calcium than dairy. I find it to be one of my useful tools with my digestive health clients; to put it simply they keep things running smoothly. Aside from that, they are known to stabilize blood sugar, assist in weight management, relieve joint pain, support immunity and more.
So what do you do with them? The beauty of chia seeds is that they are shelf stable and can be eaten whole (whereas flax seed should be ground first and consumed quickly or it will go rancid), though they are very useful ground in certain recipes. Once the seeds get moist, they get gelatinous (insert photo) – pretty wild and kind of weird at first. It adds an element of ‘chew’ to your smoothie or yogurt. Don’t be freaked out! You’ll learn to love it and crave it. The most popular way to use them is to add to yogurt, muesli, cereal, beverages, sprinkle on salads or make the ever popular chia pudding. So grab a bag next time you’re at the store and follow us on Facebook, we’re posting chia recipes right and left.
1/3 cup chia seeds
1 can plain coconut milk (we love Native Forest)
1 Tablespoon grade B maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sliced or diced fruit (we love berries & kiwi)
1 cup rolled gluten-free rolled oats, muesli or granola
Mix seeds, coconut milk, maple syrup and vanilla until well combined. Refrigerate until it sets (about an hour). You can increase the firmness of the pudding by adding more seeds.
To serve: In 4 wine glasses (because why not), place some fruit in the bottom of a cup, sprinkle some oats, muesli or granola on top, spread a layer of chia pudding and repeat as you see fit.