Food & Diet
5 Different Ways to Enjoy Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are the seeds of the desert plant Salvia hispanica. The plant belongs to the mint family and is indigenous to southern Mexico and Guatemala. According to folklore, chia seeds were a staple of Aztec and Mayan cuisine and were supposedly used to give them energy.
The term “chia” itself is the Aztec word for “strength”.
While we have yet to find scientific evidence regarding the use of chia in ancient civilizations, it would make sense to eat the seed for strength. Pound per pound and calorie per calorie, chia seeds are definitely among the most nutritious foods out there.
Two tablespoons of the seeds contain 11g of fiber, 4g of protein and 9g of fat (5g of which are omega-3 fatty acids).
The seeds are also highly nutritious and are a good source of calcium, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, potassium and B-vitamins. Eating them is almost like ingesting a fiber rich multi-vitamin.
It should come as no surprise that chia seeds are currently enjoying popularity as a superfood. The seeds have a mildly nutty flavor making it easy to sneak them into recipes.
Below are a couple of ways to enjoy chia seeds in the best way possible.
1. Make Pudding Out Of Them
Chia pudding doesn’t make its way into all your favorite fitness bloggers’ posts for nothing! Soaking the seeds in milk overnight makes it taste like dessert rather than health food. All the soluble fiber in chia seeds allows them to absorb as much liquid as they weigh. This results in a texture reminiscent of tapioca pudding, but so much better and healthier.
Chia pudding is pretty easy to do. Take ¼ cup of chia seeds and soak them in 1 cup of low-fat milk (or soy or almond). Add 1/8 of nutmeg and 3 tablespoons of natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup.
Refrigerate for at least 10 hours. Top it off with fruit or granola.
2. Use Them To Make Jam
Traditionally you would have to add tons of sugar and pectin to produce the jelly consistency of jam.
Swap most of the sugar and pectin for chia seeds. The binding properties of the seeds will ensure that your jam will have the right texture with added nutrients.
To make the jam, simply add ¼ cup of chia seeds to a few cups of berries and cook over medium heat until thick. If the berries aren’t sweet enough you can add honey to the mixture. Once the mixture has thickened, cool, transfer to a sterilized mason jar and enjoy.
3. Add Them In Breads And Pastries
Chia seeds can add a healthy crunch to bread and pastries.
You can add them to muffins along with poppy seeds and sunflower seeds to add some healthy fatty acids and much needed protein to your snack or breakfast. Chia seeds are also “whole-grain” so they would make a great addition to any type of bread recipe. To be clear though, chia seeds aren’t a type of grain. It just means that chia seeds come in a form where the seed is intact with its germ, endosperm and bran.
As we’ve mentioned above, chia seeds have a very mild, almost neutral, nutty flavor. This means you can add the seeds basically in anything from your morning cereals to stews and desserts in order to increase nutritional content without affecting the flavor.
4. Make Energy Gels Out Of Them
Energy gels are popular among athletes, especially among marathoners. The gel provides portable energy in the form of a glycogen gel to marathoners so they could have the necessary nutrients to sustain their bodies over long runs.
Marathoners used to depend on water, flat cola or sports drinks in order to refresh during a race but the latest improvements in how we understand human physiology and sports science have yielded products such as energy gels.
With all the good they do for athletes, energy gels can be incredibly saturated with high fructose corn syrup. Make a healthier at-home version of the energy gel out of 2 tablespoons of chia seeds and a cup of coconut water for a healthier version of energy gels.
5. Add Them To Recipes As A Thickening Agent
By now you’ve probably realized how chia seeds behave when exposed to water. This property of chia seeds makes them an ideal low calorie thickening agent for soups, gravies or desserts.