I have been meaning to write a post on Chia seeds for quite some time, so here we go!
Lets get down to business. Chia seeds are gluten/grain free naturally, but one tablespoon (half an ounce) of chia seeds contains more calcium than a glass of milk, more Omega-3s than a serving of salmon, more antioxidants than a handful of blueberries, and a great source of protein.
Chia seeds contain: energy, essential fatty acids: alpha-linoleic and linoleic acid, fiber, mucin, 30% protein, A, E and B vitamins, and minerals including calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, sodium, magnesium, in addition to anti-oxidants.
According to other sources the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incans used chia as a staple of their diet and as an energy food. Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language, and they were known as the “Indian Running Food” because runners and warriors would use them for sustenance while running long distances or during battle (Wellness Mama).
Chia seeds are currently being used for their nutritional and medicinal properties, endurance for athletes, for suppressing the appetite, weight loss, leveling blood sugar, and for aiding intestinal regularity. Chia seeds dissolve in water, creating a substance that looks like gelatin. This gel-forming action is due to the soluble fiber in the Chia seed. This same gel-forming phenomenon takes place in the stomach when Chia seed is consumed, creating a physical barrier between carbohydrates and digestive enzymes, slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. Slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar helps stabilize blood glucose levels, which is critical in warding off diabetes, weight gain/obesity, inflammatory diseases, among others.
How Else is Chia Beneficial?
As if sprinkling chia seeds on your cereal or salad weren’t enough, Chia gel may be used to replace food within recipes. It adds a nice little crunch and provides all sorts of nutrients. Bulking up a meal with Chia gel helps lessen the amount of food consumed, since Chia gel is primarily made up of water. Chia seeds can absorb more than 12 times its weight in water! Chia gel may also be used in place of fats within recipes, even within baked goods. Because of this, Chia seeds can prolong hydration, helping retain moisture and regulate the body’s absorption of nutrients and body fluids more efficiently.
“Indian Running Food Recipes”
-Thanks to Wellness Mama
1. Smoothie Enhancer
Add a teaspoon or two of Chia seeds into your smoothie to enhance nutrients and provide sustenance! Because they are flavorless they can be used in any kind of drink.
2. As a Safe Egg Substitute
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 (does not work in place of eggs for omelets though…)
3. To Make Chia Pudding
-2 cups of coconut milk/almond milk/ raw milk/water (your choice!)
-1/2 cup chia seeds
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
-1 tablespoon honey or sweetener of choice (optional)
Mix in a bowl or blender until smooth. Place in the fridge and will thicken in about 10-15 minutes. As you can see all you need are the chia seeds and a liquid, the rest is up to you! There are lots of flavor variations – you can add cocoa powder, or a cup of strawberries/blueberries, or add cinnamon and nutmeg!
4. To Thicken Soup or Gravies
Instead of cornstarch or other thickening agents, just add a couple tablespoons of chia seeds – powdered or not – to reach the desired thickness.
5. To Make Grain Free Crackers
I have yet to try these! Mix chia seeds with equal parts coconut milk and thicken, adding some garlic powder and sea salt, then bake at a low temp for a couple hours.
6. To Thicken Meatballs
Throw in a couple tablespoons of chia seeds – per pound of meat – in place of breadcrumbs. Also works to thicken meat-loafs, batters, etc.
7. Sprouted for Salads
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!
8. To Make Homemade Energy Gel
Add a couple tablespoons of chia seeds to a cup of coconut water. Let sit for about ten minutes and you’ll have an incredible energy gel! Beats the socks off of Gatorade and other highly processed gels for hydration and energy and you get to avoid the fake colors, fake flavors and GMO corn.
9. As a “Breading” for Fish and Chicken
Mixed with some almond flour and garlic powder, or even by itself, chia seeds make an excellent “breading” for fish or chicken. It toasts up well and provides a nutty, crunchy flavor without the grains!