Chia: The Miracle Food?
Most of us associate Chia with the catchy commercial for the little clay figures that sprout green vegetation. We put our “ch-ch-ch- chia!” pets in the kitchen window and eventually, after the novelty wears off, toss in the trash.
But perhaps you’ve heard about the growing body of evidence that classifies the raw chia seeds as pure nutrition and with astounding health benefits – all in a mere tablespoon.
Here a few facts about chia (available from every corner health food market as well as on-line. Expect to pay anywhere from $6 – 10 dollars for a pound of them. But don’t cheap out on these – buy the highest quality you can afford):
Chia has the highest concentration of omega-3, and in the right ratio to omega-6 (3:1), than any other botanical source and is also heart healthy as the seed is very high in dietary fiber and antioxidants. It has 700% more omega-3s than a serving of salmon!
Other chia benefits include:
- Calcium: Chia seed offers over 600 mg of calcium per 100 grams of seed which is about five times the amount found in whole milk. The seeds are also rich in boron, which helps the body assimilate and use calcium
- Very low Sodium: Chia seed contains only about 19 mg of sodium per 100 grams of seed.
- Chia is hydrophilic: This means that Chia seed will absorb many times its own weight in water. This property prolongs hydration which helps the body regulate its absorbing of nutrients more efficiently. A side benefit is that this water absorption ability will leave you feeling “full” much longer.
- Easily digestible. The shells are easily broken down, even when swallowed whole. This is an improvement over flax seed, which have to be ground up to be digested properly. If you eat flax seed whole, it will just pass through.
Another of the chia benefits is that, because of its high content of dietary fiber, it works very well as part of a natural detox program, by helping to “clean out the old pipes” as it were.
The simplest way to work chia into your nutrition efforts, is to stir a tablespoon into water, juice, coconut milk – virtually any liquid that you want, and drink it down. There is no flavor to chia, so unlike other healthful seeds (hemp, flax, etc.), these are super neutral. If you wait about 15 minutes and stir occasionally during that time, the seeds will absorb the liquid and plump up into a chewy consistency, almost like a tiny tapioca or boba bead. With a good strong juice mix, it can taste – and feel – as though you are drinking liquid-y jello.
Below are my favorite, easy, delicious recipes to adapt chia into your diet. Here’s to your ch-ch-ch-chia-tastic health!!
Chia-Orange-Pineapple Yogurt Smoothie
- 1 cup of cold, fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 cup of fresh cut or frozen pineapple chunks
- 1 cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt (vegans substitute soy yogurt)
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!
- 1/2 pound fresh nectarines or peaches, peeled and cut up
- 1 cup rice, almond or hazelnut milk, chilled
- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice OR 5 – 6 frozen orange juice cubes
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
Blend lightly on low setting in blender. Pour over ice, garnish with a mint leaf.
Chia Banana Pudding
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1 – 1 1/2 cup almond, soy, hemp or other milk beverage of choice
- 1 tablespoon of honey, or equivalent agave nectar to taste
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 small organic banana
Put all ingredients except the banana in an leak-proof container with an airtight lid. Shake briskly until all ingredients are blended. Repeat this step a couple more times over the course of about 30 minutes. Slice the banana into bite-sized chunks and add to the chia mixture. Stir to incorporate the banana. Refrigerate for another half hour, stirring occasionally to blend ingredients. By now, the mixture will have set, and you will have a very pudding like texture. If it is too thick for your preference, just add a little more of your milk beverage and stir some more.
This recipe is very adaptable to other ingredients: add fresh berries instead of bananas; right before eating, add a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle some granola on it for a very wonderful breakfast dish, or add whipped cream and chocolate shavings for a decadent dessert. The options are limitless!