Chia Seeds: Why and How to Use this Super Seed

You may have first heard of chia seeds due to their ability to sprout from pots shaped like everything from Kermit the Frog to Barack Obama. Or, perhaps you’ve heard talk of their many nutritional benefits. There’s no doubt chia seeds are incredibly popular right now. So what’s all the hubbub about? Well, to understand that, let’s first take it back. Like, waaaaay back. Because as early as 2600 BC, the Aztecs used them as a beverage, ground into a flour, pressed for oil and even included them in medicines.

The Nutritional Benefits of Chia Seeds

So, why were the Aztecs such big fans of these little seeds? Perhaps they were onto what we have come to know regarding chia’s many health benefits. Chia seeds are loaded with inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids, digestive health-supporting fibre, bone-building calcium, enzyme-supporting magnesium and tissue-building protein.

How to Use Chia Seeds

And for even more good news – these seeds are unbelievably easy to incorporate into your diet. They are essentially flavourless so you can toss them in all kinds of meals and snacks. Plus, a chia seed has the unique superpower of being able to absorb up to 9 times its weight in water – which makes it incredibly handy in a wide variety of recipes

1. Beverages

Stay hydrated and get some extra nutrients by tossing chia in your water or smoothie! For chia water simply toss a spoonful of chia seeds in with your filtered water and flavour with lemon, mint, cucumber or berries, if desired. Or, to amp up your favourite smoothie recipe, toss in a tablespoon of chia. Just keep in mind you may need to add more liquid if you don’t plan on drinking it right away as the smoothie will thicken as the chia absorbs the liquid.

2. Breakfast pudding

From our Power, Probiotic and Reset Jars you can probably guess we’re big fans of chia pudding for breakfast. Want to make a chia breakfast jar for yourself? It’s easy! A basic ratio to start with is 3 tablespoons chia seeds for 1 cup of liquid such as almond, cashew or coconut milk. Let that soak until fully absorbed. If you like it more liquidy or more solid you can always add more chia or liquid to your desired consistency. Then, dress it up with any toppings you like! Berries, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, banana, hemp hearts and almonds are just some of our favourites. You can also add a little sweetener such as maple syrup or honey to taste.

3. Egg substitute

If you have an egg-allergy, are trying to reduce your animal product consumption or simply don’t have any eggs on hand, it’s chia to the rescue! Just mix 1 tablespoon ground chia with 2.5 tablespoons water and let sit for 15-20 minutes until it forms a gel. Use this in place of an egg for all your favourite baked goods. You may have to increase the cooking time slightly to allow the extra moisture to evaporate but at the end of it you’ll have an equally delicious, totally egg-free treat!

Choosing your Chia

Before you get confused by the many options at your local health food store, know that chia can be black-coloured and white or light grey-coloured. And although they offer slightly different nutritional profiles – with black having slightly more protein and antioxidants and white more fibre – they’re both nutrient powerhouses so you really can’t go wrong! Between their many nutritional benefits and their simplicity of use, there’s no reason not to start incorporating chia seeds into your diet on a regular basis! By Sheelagh Daly, RHN Sheelagh is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who has used whole foods and lifestyle changes to greatly reduce her IBS symptoms and to live a liberated life with food allergies. She believes that true health and happiness doesn’t come from rules and deprivation, but rather from small, doable changes, balance and self-compassion. Sheelagh shares nutritious, allergy-friendly recipes, healthy living tips and thoughts on self-love over on her blog Nourished Sweetly. You can also connect with her on Instagram @nourishedsweetly. Sources: Bennett, Beverly Lynn. Chia: Using the Ancient Superfood. Summertown, TN: Alive, 2014. Print. Coates, Wayne, and Stephanie Pedersen. Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood. New York: Sterling, 2012. Print. Hoffman, Janie. The Chia Cookbook: Inventive, delicious recipes featuring nature's superfood. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2014. Print. Kitchen, MySeeds Chia Test. Chia Seed Remedies: Use these ancient seeds to: lose weight, balance blood sugar, feel energized, slow aging, decrease inflammation and more! New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2014. Print. "Chia Seeds, Chia Pet, Original Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia." Joseph Enterprises. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2017.

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