Chia seeds have become quite popular in the recent months, especially with health and fitness enthusiasts. It has also been incorporated in menus in most restaurants and brunch spots.
So what are they exactly? First of all, they hail from Central America and are from the desert plant Salvia hispanica. The seed was a staple in the ancient Aztec diet. Yeah, they seem like a modern thing people took up but they go way back hundreds of years.
The natives used to grow them alongside corn and back then they did not use them in smoothies and breakfast bowls of course. They used to mix them in flour to make tortillas or incorporate them while making porridge or soup.
Over time as we all know, the seeds have gained popularity and have become what we call a “superfood”. People first got to know of them in the form of Chia Pets as a novelty item and now the seeds have found their way in people’s pieces of bread, smoothies, and water.
Nutrition Facts Of Chia Seeds
As we saw above, chia seeds have become popular because of their reputation as powerhouses in matters of nutrition. 1 tbsp contains 69 calories and the following :
- 5g of fiber
- 2g protein
- 6g carbs
- 5g fat
- 2mg phosphorus
- 1mg vitamin E
- 7mg calcium
- 2mg vitamin C
- 8 mg potassium
- 5 IU vitamin A
Healthy Benefits Of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are plant-based foods that are known for the reduced risk of health conditions such as obesity and heart disease. They are also known to support a healthy complexion and overall weight loss.
- Rich in fiber: We all know the benefits of fiber intake in digestive health and regular bowel movement. Chia seeds are rich in fiber and an ounce of them provide 10 grams of fiber which is half the daily recommendation for a lady over 40 years. The type of fiber in chia seeds is soluble fiber which helps you feel satisfied and slows down digestion. That means snacking less right?
- Glucose control: Studies have been done on rats whose regular diet contained chia seeds and it showed that their response to glucose and insulin improved because of the seeds. They also found out they improved metabolic factors in insulin-resistant rats. There is still more research to be done on humans but from the study, it seems chia seeds aid in balancing blood sugar because the fiber content slows sugar absorption in the body.
- Heart health: They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and different antioxidants that have heart-healthy, anticarcinogenic and anti-aging The type of omega-3 fatty acid that chia seeds have is known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that is converted to two other omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for a healthy cardiovascular system.
- Weight loss: As we mentioned above, the richness of fiber content in the chia seeds makes a person feel fuller for a longer period. They are also lower in calories and because of this many swear on them for weight loss. The fiber and high levels of omega-3 fatty acids are very useful in weight loss. But again, data on this is still very low and a good study needs to be done to account for this.
How To Eat Chia Seeds
So, chia seeds are quite tiny compared to many seeds and nutritious. They can be incorporated in many foods we take every day and apart from the nutty crunch when you chew your food, they do not change the taste of food as much.
- Chia seeds in water: Adding chia seeds to water is becoming popular by the day. To make it you need about ¼ cup of chia seeds for 1litre of water and soak for 20 to 30 minutes then it is ready for drinking. Since it adds no flavor to the water, you could still go on to add pieces of chopped fruit or a squeeze of lemon/lime.
- Chia cereal: For a change, you could try swap your usual cereal for a bowl of chia cereal. Make sure to soak the seeds overnight in milk (any milk of your choice) then top with fruit or cinnamon as usual. Vanilla extract and mashed bananas could also make the chia cereal a delicious breakfast meal.
- Chia seeds as a crumb coating: You could also substitute your sesame seeds or bread crumbs with chia seeds. Ground the seeds in a fine powder for this and use it alone or add to the breadcrumbs.
- Chia seeds in jam: If you’ve used pectin before you know how bitter it can be. Imagine substituting it with chia seeds which absorb 10 times their dry weight in water? This means you won’t need to add too much sugar to mask the bitterness in the jam. Besides making chia jam is easier because you can substitute the refined sugar with fruit such as blueberries or honey.
- Protein bars: Chia seeds could also help when making protein bars since it reduces the need for too much-refined sugar which commercially made protein bars have. Homemade chia protein bars are quite a healthy alternative especially if you are looking into eating healthier.
- Chia in oatmeal: After making your bowl of oatmeal, stir 1 tbsp of chia seeds. You could decide to ground them or eat them as they are.
- Chia seeds as a thickener: When making homemade burgers or meatballs, rather than using eggs or breadcrumbs to bind, you could use 2 tbsps of chia seeds per 455 grams of your meat as in your usual recipe.
- Chia seeds as raw toppings: A large number of people decide to soak their chia seeds before eating but taking them raw isn’t such a bad idea. Grind then sprinkle them on top of your smoothie or yogurt. They can also be sprinkled on your salad dressing especially homemade ones since the others are loaded with sugar.
Chia Seeds Recipes
Easy Chia Pudding
- All you need is:
- 2 mason jars of milk (any of your preference)
- Chia seeds
- Honey or any other sweetener
- Fresh, dried, or chocolate chips if you decide to leave out the sweetener
- For every half cup of milk, use 2 tbsp of chia seeds but feel free to play with the measurements to your liking.
- Mix well till the seeds are incorporated into the milk then wait for the pudding to settle then mix again to ensure it does not separate in the fridge.
- Refrigerate after you make sure it has no clumps. When it is well mixed, the consistency is liquidy and when you make sure it is clump-free, add the honey then mix or you could still leave it on top.
- Close the jars and refrigerate for 2hours to up to 7 days to let the chia seeds absorb the milk and sweetener.
Chia Seed Vanilla Breakfast Bowl
For the porridge:
- 50g porridge oat
- 25g chia seeds
- 200 ml almond milk (unsweetened)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp low-fat yogurt
For the topping:
- 150g punnet blueberry
- 25g almonds flaked or slivered
- Honey to taste
- Mix the porridge ingredients in a bowl and soak for 20 minutes at least. Once the oats soften, stir through half the blueberries and add a little water if it is too dry.
- Divide the porridge into two or more bowls and top with the berries, flaked almonds, and honey.