Ch-ch-ch-chia!!

 

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I’ve been getting a lot of questions about chia seeds lately so I thought I’d share what I have learned. First things first – Yes, these are the same seeds mentioned on those catchy TV commercials of yesteryear featuring the wacky terracotta figurines sprouting bright green hair.

chia-pets     Elvis Chia   Chia Pet

While they haven’t been popular as a food in the United States until recently, they were revered in ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures for their energy-boosting and other impressive nutritional properties. Chia seeds are a stellar source of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, and many minerals including manganese, phosphorus, calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc. They are extremely hydrating due to the fact that they can absorb up to ten times their weight in liquid. Chia seeds have also been shown to improve cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar, and assist in weight loss.

Chia Infogram

 

Once you get used to these odd little seeds you will find all sorts of ways to include them in your diet. They are filling, versatile, and yummy! Some people sprinkle these as-is onto their foods, but I don’t do that very often. Since these seeds absorb so much liquid I don’t want them absorbing the liquid inside my body! I’d rather hydrate them first, making a gel which can then be used for many purposes (and support my efforts to stay hydrated!).

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Chia Gel:

The formula is flexible, but is roughly a ratio of one part chia seeds to four or five parts liquid in whatever quantity you want. The more water you use the runnier the gel will be and vice versa.  An easy method I use is to take a quart-sized, wide-mouthed mason jar, add 1 cup chia seeds, and fill it up with water or milk. Stir. Wait a few minutes.  Stir again. Wait a few minutes. Stir again. You get the idea. After a half hour or so it will be transformed from a weird clumpy mess into a thick gel. The gel can be kept in the fridge until you are ready to use it for a week or so. Now the fun begins!

I almost always add chia gel to my smoothies to increase the good fats, protein, and minerals. They don’t have much taste so you can use them for sweet or savory purposes. Just play around with the amounts to find a consistency you like. Just remember they really thicken things up!

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Another clever use is as an egg replacer. One tablespoon of chia gel = one egg. You can use this in baking just as you would use an egg. You can also use chia gel as a fat/oil replacer in salad dressings. It’s a nice thickener and goes well with many flavors.

My kids and I like to have this as a breakfast “pudding”. I either soak the seeds in almond, hemp, or coconut milk or add milk to the already made chia gel.

Blueberry Hemp Chia Pudding   Blueberry Hemp Chia Pudding with Coconut Milk  Deliciousness

Sometimes I’ll make up a big bowl of the pudding mixed with fruit and nuts or seeds for breakfast and sometimes I put out a bunch of toppings like fruit, coconut, nuts, cocoa powder, and sweeteners and let the kids adorn their chia gel to suit their tastes. For St. Patrick’s Day I added spirulina to make it bright green (and add some awesome nutrients)!

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In the summer, we like to make a Chia Fresca drink by stirring in some chia gel or chia seeds to some juice. It makes a fun drink that will help to keep you hydrated in the hot weather.

I hope you decide to take the plunge with chia. Let me know what you think!

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Blessings,

Laurie

 

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