What is Chia?
Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, native to Mexico and Guatemala, which can be traced back to the 16th-century. Evidence shows that it was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times; economic historians have suggested it was as important as maize as a food crop. The word “Chia” means strength, and tradition has it that these cultures used the black and white seeds as an energy booster. That makes sense, as chia seeds are a concentrated food containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, carbohydrates, protein, antioxidants, and calcium, hence our term for it: superfood. Additionally, they are gluten and grain free and therefore easy to use in complex diet plans.
Currently they are being used for their nutritional and medicinal properties, as they suppress appetite and support weight loss, level blood sugar, and are a secret tip in regards to endurance for athletes. Dissolved in water chia seeds create a substance that looks like gelatine – the tiny seeds are able to absorb 10 to 12 times their weight in water. This hydrophilic, gel-forming action is due to the soluble fiber in the Chia seed. Therefore, Chia can prolong hydration retaining moisture in the body and even regulating the body’s absorption of bodily fluids like electrolytes.
Researchers believe that this same gel-forming phenomenon takes place in the stomach when Chia seed is consumed, thus creating a physical barrier between carbohydrates and digestive enzymes and slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. Slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar helps with endurance and metabolic rates.
In a nutshell:
- High in protein, no cholesterol: Chia seeds are a great source for protein. One serving contains 4.4 grams of protein.
- Possible treatment for diabetes patients: Chia seeds could be a possible treatment for type-2 diabetes, as they slow down digestions and help to prevent blood sugar to spike
- Fibre: 28 grams of chia seeds contain 11 grams of dietary fibre – that is a third of the daily recommended intake for adults
- Omega-3 fatty acids: one serving of chia seeds contains almost 5 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids – 8 times the amount of an equivalent amount of salmon
- Calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium: One gram of chia seeds contains 6 times more calcium than milk, and 4 times more phosphorus than whole milk; both are important for keeping bones and teeth healthy. It contains 3 times more iron than spinach and 15 times more magnesium than broccoli!
VANILLA-ALMOND CHIA BREAKFAST PUDDING
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup Chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or raw honey
Seasonal fruit for topping (blueberries, peaches, figs or plums)
Almonds or other nuts for topping
STEP 1 Combine almond milk, Chia seeds, vanilla syrup and sweetener in a bowl. Mix well until combined and the mixture begins to thicken. Store covered in the fridge overnight, or for at least one hour.
STEP 2 Stir well before serving and add a bit of water to the pudding if it becomes too thick. Top with fresh fruit and nuts of your choice.
NOTE: This recipe makes enough for two large servings, but feel free to double the ingredients and keep it in the fridge. It will keep for up to 5 days.
KALE AND FARRO SALAD WITH LEMON AND CHIA DRESSING
1 cup Farro (or quinoa, if you prefer gluten-free), rinsed and drained
Juice from 1 large lemon (approx. 5 tbls)
3 Tbls olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/2 a medium shallot
1 Tbls Dijon mustard
2 Tbls Chia seeds
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (Pepitas)
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1 pear, cored and diced
4-5 cups kale, roughly chopped
STEP 1 Place farro in a small saucepan with two cups of water, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 20 minutes.
STEP 2 Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, shallot and dijon in a food processor and puree. Add the Chia seeds, stir and let it sit while you prepare the rest of the salad, so the seeds have time to expand.
STEP 3 Place pumpkin seeds in a small pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt over medium heat. Toast, stirring frequently, until seeds become brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
STEP 4 Toss together kale, cooked farro, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds and pear. Serve with lemon and Chia seed dressing.
2 cups coconut water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup raspberry juice (or 1 cup fresh raspberries, muddled or blended)
2-3 Tbls honey
4 Tbls Chia seeds
STEP 1 Mix all of the ingredients in a pitcher. Let sit 30 minutes until the seeds form a gel consistency.
STEP 2 Shake or stir before serving.
Recipes found on dailyburn.com, conveganence.com and busy-mommy.com