Ch-ch-ch-chia! No longer just a paste you lather all over your terracotta, foliage growing Chia Pet, chia seeds are now a legit, dare I say, superfood. I think it’s pretty insane to consider that I could have thrown my unsprouted seeds into yogurt and enjoyed a delicious treat all those years ago (note: not factually correct since Chia Pet seeds aren’t regulated by the FDA, but you get the idea)….it’s instant gratification when you compare it to the weeks you waited for your Chia Pet’s body bush to start making an appearance.
A few years ago, I attended Expo West, a food industry event where hundreds of organic and natural product companies descend to introduce their newest and greatest products spanning every category imaginable. I got to test a bevy of new and innovative products, along with new varieties of products I already love. Two new products that really piqued my interest were Mamma Chia and Chia Pods. At the time of this trade show I didn’t know much about chia seeds, so I have these particular companies to thank for the introduction.
Today, you can’t stroll any health food aisle in the supermarket without coming across chia seed laced products. They’re everywhere!
So what are chia seeds?
Though technically seeds, chia is often included under the “ancient grain” label, and historians believe that chia seeds were once as important to the Aztecs as maize.
They are small and crunchy, and highly absorbent little seeds that develop a gel like coating when soaked (which makes them great for adding to juices – it’s like mini-boba!).
Chia seeds are full of nutrients, including protein and dietary fiber (9% and 42% of recommended daily value in one ounce, respectively). They also tout an abundance of minerals that work to keep your organs functioning properly, including phosphorous, manganese, calcium, sodium and potassium (source). Most importantly to my aging brain and bod, chia seeds are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for brain and heart function, healthy skin and hair, and even mild depression (although it should be noted that animal based sources of Omega-3’s have been shown to be more beneficial than plant based – source).
How to use chia seeds
Because they are so tiny, chia seeds can be added to so many foods and included in recipes!
- Fruit juices (as in the above photo, just add to your favorite juice and allow seeds to hydrate for about an hour)
- Baked goods (bread, bars, muffins, cake, cookies)
Speaking of pudding, chia seeds absorb liquid so efficiently that they can be used to make a chia seed pudding! I love this alternative to overnight oats, and can prepare multiple mini mason jars on Sunday night to enjoy throughout the week.
Sorry Chia Pet, I’m going to be eating my chia seeds these days instead of lathering them all over your little orange animal body.
- ¾ cup almond milk, unsweetened (vanilla)
- 2 - 3 tsp maple syrup or honey
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
- Optional fruit, nut, etc. toppings
- Mix/shake all ingredients together in an air tight container and store in the refrigerator overnight. Stir in your favorite toppings and enjoy (I love adding berries!).