The Amazing Chia Seed
From ancient diet staple to chia pets to present day superfood, chia seeds have gone through quite the identity shift. They’re really pretty neat and it’s shocking that terra cotta cats and sheep with green “hair” aren’t the centerpieces of juice bars and vegetarian restaurants. Fast forward to 2015 – chia seeds can be found in granolas, gluten free breads, energy bars, pretzels, kombucha, and even some beauty products.
With a little help from health gurus like Dr. Oz and Andrew Weil, chia seeds went mainstream several years back. A few hits on USA Today and the NY Times, and some love from Oprah didn’t hurt either. Like kale and morning lemon water, chia seeds won’t be leaving the limelight anytime soon – and for good reason.
A very rich source of ALA (plant-based) omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds also contain antioxidants, protein, fiber and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. Of particular interest to elite athletes, marathoners, and cyclists are chia’s hydrating and endurance properties. The hydrophilic seeds can absorb up to ten times their weight in water. This “gelling” factor physically slows down the process through which the body can convert soaked chia seeds’ carbohydrates into simple sugars. No wonder Aztecs and Mayans consumed chia seeds like water!
The beauty of the chia seed is its simplicity. Chia seeds do not require refrigeration, and there’s no cooking, grinding, soaking or spouting needed to reap the benefits. They literally taste like nothing and can easily be incorporated into sweet or savory dishes without being overpowering. Unlike hemp or flax, there is no nutty aftertaste. Start off with a couple big scoops of chia seeds from the bulk section or a 12-ounce bag from Nutiva. Add a spoonful into your morning smoothie prior to blending or put a dash on your morning oatmeal. Done!
Once you’ve mastered sprinkling chia seeds onto just about anything, try out this delectable, kid-approved Coconut Chia Pudding. It’s a satisfying breakfast, dessert or mid-day snack that’s sure to please.
Coconut Chia Pudding
2 ½ C almond milk
½ C chia seeds
½ C shredded unsweetened coconut
2 T maple syrup
1 t cardamom
1 t vanilla extract
Mix all of the ingredients well until clumps are gone. Cover and place in fridge overnight. Stir before serving and top with fresh fruit if desired. Coconut Chia Pudding will keep up to one week in the fridge.
Written by Taste Maker, Mindy Elmergreen
Mindy is a self-taught chef who has been researching, crafting and experimenting with vegan food since the late 90’s. From fermenting to spiralizing, Mindy has done it all. Her dream kitchen has sprouting shelves, a stainless steel dehydrator, a Norwalk Juicer and a fridge with four produce shelves. While baking isn’t her strongest suit, she sure can whip up a mean creamy vegetable korma. Mindy is a Bikram Yoga instructor who takes much pride in nourishing her husband and kale-eating toddler. She loves to inspire and teach others how to add some vegan meals to their life one avocado at a time.