As a child, 1982 was the year I yearned for a Chia Pet. I wanted the ram. I didn’t even know what a ram was, but I wanted it. It was the commercial that won my heart, with it’s catchy tune and fancy time-lapsed photography. Who knew that 30 years later, Dr. Oz’s team and even Nuts.com (one of my favorites) would be all over their nutritional benefits.
Chia seeds (‘chia’ is actually Mayan for “strength”)–which were used widely by the Mayans and Aztecs as early as 3500 BC to increase stamina and energy–are a SUPER superfood because they have a crazy high amount of nutrients for a crazy low amount of calories. And unlike chia’s friend the flax seed (also a Super), they don’t have to be ground to reap the benefits.
Chia seeds are high in:
- Soluble fiber: the one responsible for lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, filling you up, and keeping you full for a scarily long amount of time. It absorbs 12 times its own weight in 5 minutes. Take THAT, “Grow Your Own Boyfriend“!
- Calcium: 16% of your daily requirement per ounce (2 tablespoons), which is 3 times the amount you’ll get from dairy foods
- Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s: Chia is a more concentrated source of skin- and heart-healthy essential fatty acids than salmon
- Protein: 6 grams per ounce (2 tablespoons)–that’s similar to meat, but it’s a seed!
So how do you eat them? How DON’T you eat them is more the question! You can literally toss a tablespoon or two into anything. They’re tasteless and simply contribute a fun, crunchy texture to your food. Here, I added them to a dessert and a pina-colada-type smoothie with only positive feedback. Here are 40 more ideas. Chia Cheers!
Makes 16 small squares or 9 large squares
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 flaxseed meal
1/2 cup filtered water
1 15.5-ounce Trader Joe’s Blondie Bar Baking Mix (or other blondie or brownie mix that bakes in a 9″ X 9″ pan)
1/2 cup melted Earth Balance margarine
1 medium zucchini squash (green or yellow), shredded
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Soak chia seeds and flaxseed meal in water in a medium bowl for 5 minutes, until a thick gel forms.
Stir remaining ingredients into chia flax mixture until well mixed.
Spread mixture into a lightly greased 8- or 9-inch square or round baking pan.
Bake for 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Feel your cholesterol dissolving, one bite at a time.
Nutrition Info Per Small Square (1/16th of recipe): 178 calories, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 1.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 g monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 232 mg sodium, 39 mg potassium, 22.5 g carbohydrate, 3.2 g fiber, 13.3 g sugar, 2 g protein, 5% vitamin A, 1% vitamin C, 2% calcium, 6% iron.
Nutrition Info Per Large Square (1/9th of recipe): 317 calories, 15 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 2.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 2 g monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 412 mg sodium, 68 mg potassium, 40 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 23.5 g sugar, 4 g protein, 10% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 4% calcium, 10% iron.
What the critics said:
Bitchin’ Husband: “If I have a second, will my hair grow green?” (Ha ha, Funnyman)
6-Year-Old Daughter: “Two more please!”
4-Year-Old Son: “Mom! You never gave me dessert!” (Trying to get another)
2-Year-Old Son: “I not like this.” Two minutes later: “Why you eat my dessert?!?!”
Makes 3 1-cup servings
Chia seeds are rich in soluble fiber, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, & help to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, & promote heart health. Salud!
¼ cup chia seeds soaked in ½ cup filtered water for 5 minutes
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
2 cups refrigerated coconut milk
(or 1 cup canned coconut milk plus 1 cup water)
Blend and do the hat dance.
Nutrition Info Per 1-cup Serving: 202 calories, 10 g total fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 20 g carbohydrate, 10 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 8 g protein, 11% vitamin A, 52% vitamin C, 15% calcium, 34% iron.