I first read about Chia seeds a couple of years ago and then about a year or so ago I found some not really knowing what to do with them but reading about their nutritional benefits I was keen to try them and find out how to incorporate them into my diet.
Chia is a gluten-free wholegrain that comes from a desert plant in Mexico called Salvia hispanica. These tiny black and white seeds were used long ago by Mayan and Aztec cultures to boost energy. Because they have a mild, nutty flavour, chia seeds are easy to add to a variety of foods and drinks.
There certainly is a nutritional powerhouse within these tiny, versatile seeds, they are said to have twice the protein of any other seed or grain, the protein is a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids and 5 times the calcium of milk plus boron which is an important mineral that helps transfer calcium into your bones. With more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon, a wealth of antioxidants – four times higher ORAC value than blueberries and 3 times more iron than spinach, chia’s nutritional benefits are extremely valuable.
The best way to use chia is to soak in water first (although Chia will absorb any liquid), the seeds will rapidly absorb the water to create a gel which can be used almost immediately although more of the nutrients will be released with a longer soak. Unlike flaxseeds, there is no need to grind Chia first. The seeds are easily digested and absorbed and the nutrients are quickly assimilated into the body.
A recommended daily intake is one tablespoon of chia, but make sure you drink plenty of water as chia is very high in fibre.
How to eat:
For breakfast I’ve been adding a tablespoon to coconut milk and leaving to soak for a few minutes and then use the milk to cook oatmeal. Chia combines well with yoghurt and fruit and can be added to smoothies, juice, puddings, sauces, soup, cereal, etc for an added boost of nutrition.
Quick Chia Drink
1 tblspn Chia seeds
150-200ml of your favourite juice
Mix the juice and Chia together, pop in the fridge for 15-20 minutes for the seeds to absorb the liquid. Stir and drink!
Chia Seed Pudding –
This pudding is very reminiscent of the Tapioca pudding we ate as children.
1 cup of coconut milk or any milk of your choice, we like almond too.
⅓ cup Chia seeds (less if you prefer a less dense pudding)
¼ tsp vanilla extract (or to your own taste)
Sweetener of your choice – maple syrup, honey, stevia, etc
Stir the Chia seeds into the coconut milk, then add the vanilla. Leave for 20 minutes to allow the seeds to absorb the milk, stirring after about 10 minutes to avoid clumps of seeds. Add a sweetener of your choice to your own palate. I don’t use any sweeteners – it tastes great without! At this stage you can add anything you wish, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, dried fruit, nuts, etc.
For a chocolate variation: add 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to the milk and whisk together before adding the Chia seeds (if using raw cacao powder, you will need a touch of sweetness as it can be a little bitter for young tastes).
Enjoy, it’s delicious and nutritious!
If you are allergic to sesame or mustard seeds you should not be consuming Chia seeds without consulting your health care provider first.