Cha-Cha-Chia: you know it. That chia pet commercial engrained in your brain since you were little. Come clean, you know you had no idea back then that chia seeds were actually something you ATE, versus grew hair on Scooby Do face. Chia seeds are loaded with nutrition! Scrap the pet and work these into your life!
Chia seeds come in black or white. They have a ton of fiber, protein, and offer a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Our American diet tends to be quite unbalanced in terms of Omega 3's and Omega-6's, both fats that the body needs, but in a 1:1 ratio. The imbalance occurs, since most Americans eat a diet high in Omega 6-fatty acids from refined oils and fats found in fried foods, baked goods made with oils like canola and vegetable oils, and processed foods in general. Whole-foods that contain fats, such as flaxseed, nuts, and chia seeds, have a higher amount of Omega 3's, and to help balance you. However, you don't need a ton of fat in general and a low-fat, whole food, plant-based diet will provide you what you need. In 2 tbsp of chia seeds you get:
- 10 grams of fiber!
- 4.7 g protein
- 17% calcium
- 23% magnesium
- 12% iron
- 115 mg of potassium
- 0 mg of cholesterol
- 9 grams of fat (this fat is polyunsaturated omega 3's, primarily)
While chia seeds are great sources of vital nutrients, be careful if you have issues with seed digestion or are on a low-fat diet, as they are do supply higher amount of fat, albeit primarily omega-3's (flaxseeds are actually a better plant-based source, but need to be ground up to be able to be absorbed). Chia seeds are best digested after they've soaked in a liquid for 5 minutes or so, helping their nutritional value be better absorbed by the body. They are remarkable at absorbing water, and have been said to absorb 27 times their weight in water. Because of this, chia seeds are great for pudding and used as thickening agents. My kids (and hubby) don't like their texture, which can be somewhat gelatinous and not the prettiest to look at. Once I started blending them up, their textural weirdness disappeared, and they had no clue they were present. Yeah mom!
Some great ways to incorporate this food:
- Sprinkle on oatmeal
- Use in place of eggs-1 tbsp of chia seed plus 3 tbsp water=1 egg
- Add to smoothies and plant-based dressings to create a creamier texture
- Sprout them (they're not just good on top of clay heads you know)-for how to sprout seeds, click here.
- Make some pudding, like this Cinnamon Chia Seed Pudding
Until next week...healthy, happy eating!
Jessica from www.gardenfreshfoodie.com