Chia Seeds -Why and How to add them to your diet

Remember Chia Pets?  Yep – it’s the same seed, but now it’s considered more of a super food than playful decor.  Officially the Salvia Columbariae or Salvia Hispanica L. (there are a few types with varying c0lors and nutrition profiles), it is a plant in the mint family that grows throughout South America and up through California and Nevada as well.  Production is increasing, prices are dropping, availability is improving, and I can now even find a good-size bag at my Costco here in the Houston suburbs for under $10.

Similar to flaxseed, chia is famous for its rich content of Omega-3 fats – roughly half of the total fat content depending on where it is grown.  It also is rich in protein, fiber, trace minerals, and phytochemicals such as quercetin.  Also like flaxseed, it gels and thickens when mixed with liquid if it sits too long.  Unlike flax, it does not have to be ground first but can be eaten straight up in granola, smoothies, and baked goods.  The seeds also stay good for about 2=two years, so it’s OK to buy in bulk.

My family LOVES chia “jam;”  thawed frozen berries mixed with chia and a dash of honey or raw sugar all blended up for a smooth texture or allowed to get into a consistency like fruit spread.  The tiny seeds look and crunch like raspberry seeds this way.  I like them in my protein shakes, in yogurt, or even in muesli or granola in the morning.  a couple bites of yogurt with chia jam before a run is a great pre-workout snack for me.

Be aware that if you or your kids have texture issues (two of mine do) beware that they may not like the “slimy” consistency in their shakes or cereal.   Also, taking a big spoonful and swallowing it is not recommended for those with swallowing issues – they could potentially gel up in your throat.

Chia “jam:” 

  •  Two cups frozen berries
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp honey or raw sugar if desired

(I sometimes add apples or pears for a little more texture)

  1. Cook fruit on stovetop or microwave until berries are just about boiling.

2.  Stir in chia seeds and sugar

3.  Allow to cool and gel for 5-10 minutes, then blend if desired.

 

  Add to whole wheat pancakes along with  yogurt, almonds, and flaxseed for a fiber and protein and antioxidant-rich breakfast!