Remember those fun chia pets all the kids would beg for in the 90’s? Chia seeds are what were used to make the hair on those fun characters grow! Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that pack a major punch. Not in terms of how they taste, but in what they can do for you and your body.
They may not be as popular among house plants, but chia seeds are just gaining momentum among the health conscious. It’s a good idea to explore chia and learn more about the tiny black seeds, beginning with exactly what they are.
What Are Chia Seeds?
If you search all over the internet you can find all sorts of information about superfoods like micro greens, spirulina etc. But one food item that’s sure to be on every superfood, healthy eating list you come across is the chia seed.
Chia seeds have been around for centuries. Several sources, including Dr Axe, claim chia seeds were first grown in Mexico where they were incredibly valuable because of their nutritional value and medicinal properties.
According to WebMD, chia seeds are edible seeds derived from the Salvia hispanica desert plant that has been growing in Mexico since the Aztec and Mayan cultures.
It’s also been reported that Aztec warriors would consume chia seeds for energy. Reportedly, just one spoonful of chai seeds could keep soldiers going for 24 hours. It’s no wonder that “chia” means strength. Chia seeds are an un-processed whole grain absolutely loaded with health benefits.
Chia Seed Health Benefits
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one ounce of chia seeds is 131 calories and contains 11.2 grams of fiber. Additionally, chia seeds contain no sugar, have 8.4 grams of fat, 13.07 grams of carbohydrates, and 5.6 grams of protein per one ounce serving.
According to Medical News Today, one serving of chia seeds per day provides 18% of a person’s daily calcium requirements. Chia seeds are also great sources of phosphorous, manganese, potassium, copper, and omega-3s. Additionally, chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants. They contain just as many as blueberries!
Chia seeds are able to absorb liquid which means you can add them to drinks or other dishes for a heartier consistency and to keep you fuller longer. They’re an easy, flavor-free way to add vitamins A, B, E, and D to your diet.
7 Ways To Use Chia Seeds
The chia seed is an incredibly versatile food, which means it’s nearly entirely up to you how you want to use them. It’s important to know that because chia seeds absorb several times their size/weight in liquid, you’ll want to soak them before you consume them. They can either be soaked in the meal you’re adding them to or soak them before adding them to your meal. It still may be a good idea to drink a lot of liquid after eating chia seeds, because of their ability to absorb fluid even inside your body.
They’re perfect for adding a nutritional boost to just about any meal, but check out some of the ideas we’ve collected below:
1. As an egg substitute
If you’re looking for a way to substitute eggs in a recipe, chia seeds are a phenomenal option. To substitute chia seeds for an egg, use a tablespoon of finely ground chia seeds combined with 3 tablespoons of water. You’ll find that the mixture is similar in texture to egg whites.
2. As an ingredient in delicious baked goods
The Realistic Nutritionist created an incredibly Lemon and Chia Seed Bundt Cake, explaining that by using chia seeds for her recipe instead of poppy seeds, she achieved the same effect but with all the added health benefits of chia seeds. So does this mean the cake is healthy, therefore we can eat however much of it we want?
3. As a soup or gravy thickener
It may sound odd at first, but why add cornstarch or other thickeners to a recipe when you can add nutrient-loaded chia seeds? Next time you whip up your favorite chicken recipe like one suggested here, try adding chia seeds. You may wonder why you never did before!
4. As a replacement for breadcrumbs in meatballs or meatloaf
Two or three tablespoons of chia seeds per pound of meat works great instead of breadcrumbs. Plus, it’s much healthier!
5. Add nutrients to your favorite smoothie, green juice, or bowl of yogurt
Whether added just as they are or ground first, chia seeds make a great addition to your favorite healthy snack. Either mix them in or sprinkle them on as a topping for a health boost and a trick to keep you fuller longer.
6. Make them into chia pudding
Because chia seeds absorb so much liquid, you can add them to water or milk and leave it sit overnight to make a dish similar to tapioca pudding texture-wise. For flavor you’ll want to add a sweetener and perhaps some fresh fruit. You can practically make whatever sort of treat you’re craving at the time depending on what you add to your homemade pudding!
7. Use them for Breading
According to Health, chia seeds make a great breading for protein or vegetables. Not only will you get a nice crunchy exterior, but you’ll reap the health benefits of chia seeds with every bite.
If you’re looking for a healthy way to add more nutrients to your favorite meals, chia seeds are often referred to as “superfoods” for a reason. Because they’re loaded with all the vitamins and nutrition benefits you could possibly want, just one tablespoon a day can make a significant difference in your diet. You can have a little fun with them and make a cute plant or you can use them for what they were really meant for: to give you energy, keep you full, and boost your health in an all-natural way.