The Magic of Chia Seeds! The ‘new’ Superfood! I may be a little bit late to the party, which is nothing new in my life, however when I arrive, I arrive in Style. Today I arrive bearing Chia seeds. If the name ‘Chia’ conjures up images of funny looking figurines I’m here today to reprogram your thinking (though the sprouts from those pets are very healthy!). Chia seeds have been a staple food source for the Native American people for centuries. Aztec warriors would eat Chia during hunting trips, and the Indians of the Southwest would eat only Chia seed mixed with water as they ran from the Colorado River to the Pacific Ocean-and by the end of this article you will understand why! I get my Chia seeds from nutsonline.com. I have no affiliation with them! I only mention them because I am astonished with the speed of service and the quality. An Amazing Source of Omega 3’s: Chia seeds and oil naturally contain more than 60% Omega-3 fatty acid, this is the highest percentage of Omega-3 of any commercially available source. The body converts Omega-3 from chia into EPA and DHA. Chia has no odor, doesn’t go rancid, is easy to store, easy to use, has very little flavor/taste and is not contaminated with pesticides, chemicals or heavy metals. (Now isn’t that a nice change!)
Built in Dehydration Prevention: Chia's hydrophilic (water loving) structure holds water. The seed can soak up ten times its weight in water. This means when inside your body, the seeds help you stay hydrated longer. Athletes eat chia seeds to stay hydrated during long workouts. Great Fiber Source: Chia is also a good source of fiber as they produce a thick gel in water, absorbing up to 30 times their weight. This soluble fiber cleans the intestines by binding and transporting debris from the intestinal walls so that it can be eliminated efficiently and regularly. A daily dose of chia seed provides an excellent fiber source.
High in Protein: Chia seed is a complete source of dietary protein, providing all the essential amino acids. Compared to other seeds and grains, chia seed provides the highest source of protein, between 19 to 23 percent protein by weight. A Diet Food! The gel-forming property of chia seed tends to slow digestion and sustain balanced blood sugar levels, which can be helpful in preventing or controlling diabetes, mood swings and food cravings. It works by forming a gel when becoming wet. This gel, when in our digestive systems, helps prevent some of the food that we eat from getting absorbed making the chia seed a great diet helper. Eating the seeds also helps curb your appetite by making you feel fuller faster. Random Good Stuff: Chia seeds contain greater alpha-linolenic acid concentrations than any other seed or grain. This substance lowers the risk of heart disease, blurred vision, and numbness. Chia seed contains large amounts of B vitamins and calcium. By volume, one ounce of chia contains 13 percent niacin, two percent B-2 (riboflavin and 29 percent thiamin, and trace amounts of all B vitamins. In roughly two ounces of chia there are 600 milligrams of calcium, contrasted with 120 milligrams of calcium in the same amount of milk. (If you’re doing the math that is 5 times the amount of calcium than a glass of milk!)
Chia also contains boron, which is needed for bones. With much of the nation’s soil boron depleted, we simply are not getting enough boron (or most minerals!) in our daily diets. Boron is needed to aid the metabolism of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus in bones and for muscle growth. Boron also can increase the levels of natural estrogen.
Ok, so what’s the best way to take your Chia?
There is no ‘right way’ to eat Chia, that’s the beauty of it. Chia seeds are very mild tasting which is why it’s so easy to mix it in with anything. You can mix the Chia gel with: Fruit juices, smoothies, milk, shakes, jams, jellies, preserves, syrups, lemonade, yogurt, nut butters, hot cereal, cold cereal, polenta, grits, pancake and waffle mix (use 1 tablespoon per waffle), mustard, barbeque sauce, dips, soups, mayonnaise, salad dressings, you name it! Or you can use it in baking instead of oil or shortening. Sprinkle them on your salad! You can make a gel and add the gel to foods. You can add the gel to anything you wish for reducing calories, saturated fat and sugar amounts without compromising sensory appeal. The seeds can be used to replace less-healthy fat in just about any recipe. You can use them uncooked in salad dressings, spreads, fruit shakes, ice cream, and just about anything you want. You can also add them when baking to cookies, cakes, muffins, and other baked goods.
Here is how you can make a gel Put nine parts water in a sealable plastic container. Slowly pour one part seed into the water, then mix with a wire whisk or fork. This process will avoid any clumping of the seed. Wait a few minutes and stir again to break up any clumps, let stand ten minutes, and stir again. Store up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Add the gel, between 50 to 70 percent by volume, to any of the above-mentioned foods, mix well, and taste. You will notice a very smooth texture, with the integrity of the flavor intact, but you have added 50 to 70 percent more volume to your food and have displaced calories and fat by incorporating an ingredient that is ninety percent water! Oh! They also taste good ‘as is’. Enjoy!