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Sunday, February 26, 2012


Remember Chia Pets from when we were kids? Well it turns out that the same seeds that gave your pet a nice little 'fro are one of the most powerful foods in the world! Chia seeds are an ancient superfood that is making a recent comeback (and I predict that they will be hotter than flax seeds!) "Chia," which is Mayan for "strength," gave Mayan and Aztec messengers endurance for their super long runs. These black and white seeds, which look like little dinosaur eggs, form a thick gel when placed in liquid.

Here is just a preview of some of the incredible benefits of chia seeds:
  • 2 times the protein of any other seed or grain (a complete protein providing all essential amino acids)
  • 5 times the calcium of milk, plus boron which is a trace mineral that helps transfer calcium into your bones
  • 2 times the amount of potassium as bananas
  • 3 times the reported antioxidant strength of blueberries
  • 3 times more iron than spinach
  • Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (even more than flax seeds!)
  • Incredible source of soluble fiber
Unlike flax, chia seeds can be kept in dry storage for years without spoilage. They are mild in taste, inexpensive, and versatile. I could go on and on....!

For the past year or so, I had a big 3lb. bulk bag of Nutiva Organic Chia Seeds from in my pantry. I would occasionally toss a spoonful into oatmeal, but they seemed too small and crunchy to chew. I recently discovered "chia gel," which is super easy to prepare and versatile. Store it in a mason jar in the refrigerator for up to a week and spoon into smoothies, oatmeal, cereal, salads, soups, beverages, etc. 

Chia Gel
Makes about 1 cup
  1. Combine 1 cup water and 2-3 tbs. chia seeds in a bowl or jar. 
  2. Stir with a fork to wet the chia seeds.
  3. Continue to stir every few minutes to prevent clumping until seeds absorb all water (usually 5-15 minutes)
  4. Add more seeds or water as necessary. 
My most recent obsession is chia pudding, which makes a quick and easy raw breakfast, snack, or dessert. It's basically chia gel with nondairy milk as the base instead of water. 

Chia Pudding
Serves 1-2
  1. Combine 1 to 1.5 cups nondairy milk and 2-4 tbs. chia seeds in a bowl.
  2. Stir every few minutes until chia seeds absorb liquid (see directions for gel above). 
  3. Store in the refrigerator or serve right away with your favorite add-ins:
    • Cacao/carob powder
    • Nuts, seeds
    • Fresh, frozen, or dried fruit
    • Lucuma powder
    • Vanilla/almond extract
    • Spices 
    • Sweeteners (maple syrup, agave, honey)
Some of my favorite combinations for chia pudding are: 
  • Maple syrup + lucuma powder + pecans + dates + cinnamon + nutmeg + cloves
  • Cacao powder + cacao nibs + walnuts + banana (or frozen raspberries)
  • Vanilla powder + almonds + frozen blueberries

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