Yes for real! The latest health food craze is chia seeds. The very one and only that we have seen on tv making corny, household plant growing history by becoming a name everyone knows.
While I encourage you all to grow them on something terracotta for the fun of it, currently the true health benefits of consuming these tiny little seeds is becoming more popular than their “as seen on tv” fame. What none of us probably realized is that chia seeds have been being grown, primarily in the south of Mexico, as far back as 1500 B.C. and all the way up until the 16th century A.D. when the Spaniards invaded and forbade it because of its religous use by the Aztecs. (It always amazes me how centuries ago we were smart enough to know the good stuff to eat, but today we are supposedly more “advanced”?!) A few small growers kept the farming of chia seeds alive, but a much larger number of Latin American farmers our now providing the world with not just chia seeds for fun window sill growing, but by the POUNDS to be purchased in health food stores, online and even our local grocery stores (in some places).
Chia seeds were originally used by the Incas, Aztec and Mayans because of this sort of “mysterious” properties that allows it to absorb liquids and hold them in the body for unreal amounts of time, and also to make you feel full while providing energy. They reportedly gave them to soldiers and claimed that as little as one tablespoon could sustain a man for 24 hours. It is now very popular among runners and survivalists for these reasons.
But why should we be eating them?…Where to start?!…
Super high amounts of fiber and protein. It’s an unbelieveable source of calcium and its absorption component Boron, two times the amount of potassium as in a banana, more antioxidants than you can get from Blueberries (reportedly 3 times more!), more iron than Spinach and there are all the rest of vitamins and minerals it contains (phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.) Maybe one of the most important benefits is Chia seeds being a very notable source of Omega-3s (higher than flax seeds.)
Clearly chia seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients but there are plenty of other properties to it that are helping bring back their surge in popularity. They are gluten-free, help stabilize blood sugar when consumed with high glycemic sugar foods (fruit, pasta and bread), and safe if not beneficial to people with IBS, celiac disease and acid reflux. They’re known for anti-inflammation effects and were being used to treat arthritis and skin irritations even as far back as the Aztecs. This is all just the tip of the iceberg of its health and nutrition properties. I could go on and on…(Please feel free to contact me with questions or to learn more about anyone of these properties.)
So we know we definitely want to eat these, but how are you going to incorporate them? In about 1,000 different ways!! I have had SO much fun coming up with ways to incorporate them (aka hide them from unwilling participants of their ingestion). You can eat them sprinkled on anything. They basically have no flavor. If I had to equate the flavor, I’d say it’s that of a poppy seed…so yah, no flavor. You can grind those babies up and incorporate them into baked goods, even using them as a “flour”. The Mexicans create a cool, refreshing beverage out of them that they call ‘Chia Fresca’. Perhaps another “wonder” use is this fast, easy gel that can be made of the seeds and stirred into anything from oatmeal to yogurt, smoothies to cream cheese/spreads. The seeds can be used as a thickening agent in soups, sauces and gravies. You can create “puddings” and “jellos” out of the seeds by soaking them in other liquids besides water. You can make crackers, pancakes and even mix 1 tbsp of chia seeds into 1/4 cp of milk as an egg substitute in baked goods! Amazing stuff these teeny little seeds are.
While I am not a big sweets person, nearly everyone else in my life seems to be. I’m always trying to come up with some sort of dessert that is healthy, will satisfy their sweet tooth, and won’t repulse them! I think I created a little concoction that is tolerable to them, maybe more so. I originally made the version with coffee as half the liquid only 1 and a half tbsp of agave syrup and carob powder instead od cocoa powder. (For you purest without much of a sweet tooth, like myself, I actually found it to be perfect. I totally loved it! My family of sweet tooth’s were much, MUCH less enthusiastic than I was. lol)
Below is the sugar-eaters approved version, without any real sugar. And as always…experiment. Have fun! Play with your food. Who knows what you’ll discover and create?!
**As I continue to come up with fun chia seed recipes I will add them to the recipe section.**
Mocha Latte “Pudding”
1 1/2 cp milk (It doesn’t matter what percentage. I used skim.)
1/2 cp leftover coffee of your choosing
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract-no alcohol
1/4 cp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp Agave syrup
4 tbsp chia seeds.
Essentially you just mix all the ingredients together, in whatever order you’d like, and refrigerate. Within 10-15 minutes it will start to thicken but I suggest waiting at least an hour. It will also stay good for a week. (That is only because of the milk. Without milk, it would last refrigerated for 3 weeks!)