What’s the story with….Chia Seeds
Only a few years ago Chia Seeds weren’t widely known or available. Thankfully this great seed has found its way to Ireland and can now be bought in any supermarket or health food store. At Fit 4 Life we just love this little yet powerful seed and use it daily in one form or another in smoothies, granola, puddings or egg replacers but more about that later.
What is Chia?
Chia seeds are typically small ovals with a diameter of about 1 mm. They are mottle-colored with brown, gray, black and white. The seeds can absorb up to 12 times their weight in liquid when soaked. While soaking, the seeds develop a gel-like coating that gives chia-based dishes a distinct texture and perfect as an egg replacement.
The seeds are from South America and reportedly the Aztecs used to bring them on their treks, munching them throughout the day keeping them hydrated. Chia seeds are a powerhouse and full of omega-3 fats, minerals including calcium, potassium, fibre, iron, sodium, and vitamins A, B, D, and E.T They are a natural electrolyte and are known to increase strength, energy and endurance.
Nutritonal Facts of Chia seeds:
*Per cent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Top 5 Benefits of Chia Seeds
- Help weight loss. Chia seeds have a very high fiber and protein content which make them popular for weight loss. The fiber absorbs large amounts of water and expands in the stomach which increases fullness and slows the absorption of food. This blockage of calorie absorption makes them a great diet helper. The protein in chia seeds can help to reduce appetite and food intake. The fact that they can absorb 12 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel makes you feel full and you’re less likely to feel the need to eat large portion
- Hydration for athletes & Improve Exercise Performance as Much as a Sports Drink. They are also great for athletes because the “chia gel” can hydrate the body. According to studies, chia seeds can help athletes “carb load” for endurance events, while increasing their intake of nutrients and decreasing their intake of sugar.
- Reduce your blood pressure: There’s evidence to suggest they can reduce blood pressure due to being rich in essential fatty acids and is great for cardiovascular health.
- Fight Inflammation: Chia seeds are the richest plant source of Omega-3- in fact, they contain more Omega-3 than salmon! Omega-3 are the vital fats that protect against inflammation—such as arthritis—and heart disease
- Control Blood Sugar: Because chia seeds slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, studies indicate they can control blood sugar. This leads scientists to believe chia seeds may have great benefits for diabetics.
Uses of Chia Seeds
As a Safe Egg Substitute
Don’t get us wrong eggs are a great source of protein but if you’re like so many other are intolerant chia seeds are a great substitute for baking or binding batters. It doesn’t however substitute eggs in omelettes
To substitute for an egg: Use 1 tablespoon finely ground chia seeds (grind them dry in a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder) and 3 tablespoons of water per egg in a baked recipe
To Make Healthy Pudding
Overnight chia seed pudding is a great healthy breakfast you can prepare the night before.
Our go-to recipe is:
photo credit: Linn Thorstensson
|2 cups of coconut milk or other milk1/2 cup chia seeds|
2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder or cinnamon(to taste)(optional)
1 tablespoon or more sweetener of choice (optional)- honey or a few drops of stevia tincture
Put in a blender and blend until smooth. Will thicken in about 10 minutes in the fridge.
There are endless flavour variations. Just add some fresh berries or other fruit you have at home and you’re done.
To Thicken Soup or Gravies
If you’re trying to go unprocessed and don’t use cornstarch to thicken soups or gravies it can be quite a challenge as regular thickening agents are often full of preservatives. Just add a couple tablespoons of chia seeds (powdered or not) at a time to reach the desired thickness.
Sprouted for Salads
Eating salads in restaurants are great as they tend to be very colourful with a lot of ingredients and in healthy spots often have little sprouts on them. It sounds like a lot of effort to make your own sprouts but it’s actually not. Just put some chia seeds in water, drain the water off and leave in a jar for a couple days. Every 12 hours or so, rinse with water and pour the water off. In a day or two, you’ll have little chia sprouts.