Sunday, April 25, 2010

Why Chia?

This weekend has been a blur of activity.  Actually, the last week has been a blur, really.  Cassie and Nathan were in a big play Friday and Saturday, so I was quite busy finishing up costumes and carpooling.  Today there was a big banquet for Girl Scouts, where Cassie received recognition for earning her Silver Award.  It has all been very exciting, but I can honestly say that I am more than ready for things to calm down, so I can get back to cooking, blogging, and starting my garden.  I can't go another day, however, without blogging about something, so here is a subject that I have been getting a lot of questions about lately.

Oh, yeah.  On a side note, my birthday was yesterday, and my personal chef wonderful son, Elijah (12 years old) made me breakfast.  How sweet is that?  I just had to include that in my post today since I didn't have a chance to do it yesterday (too busy with the kids' play).  Here is a picture of my wonderful birthday breakfast (Actually, it's my husband's plate since I had already eaten mine before I thought to take a picture!):

How thoughtful was that?  Happy birthday to me! :-)

Now on to the subject at hand:  chia seeds.  I have had quite a few people ask me these questions over and over again, and no wonder.  Chia seeds haven't been in the limelight very long.  Even though ancient peoples used chia seeds for a power food, they have been largely unknown as such by people in our country until very recently.  So here are answers to some of the questions I have been asked.

Are these chia seeds related to the chia pets?  I instantly can hear, "Ch-ch-ch-chia!" ringing in my head.  Yes, they are one and the same.  In fact, you can sprout your chia seeds to make nutritious sprouts for your salads and sandwiches.  You can also use them to refill your chia pet if you want to.

What do chia seeds taste like?  Chia seeds are very mild in flavor.  I can barely distinguish any flavor at all--especially if I mix them with other things (like vanilla almond milk).  They pretty much pick up the flavor of whatever you put them in.

What can you do with chia seeds?  You can use chia seeds as a thickener.  You can grind them into flour using a coffee grinder, and use the flour in your baking (though you may need to increase the liquid in your recipe).  You can make puddings and thicken your smoothies with chia seeds.  You can make refreshing beverages with chia seeds.  You can make chia gel and add it to your salad dressings, condiments, and other things in order to stretch them farther or to add nutrition.   Chia seeds soak up and retain a lot of liquid, so when you eat them dry, you should make sure you drink a lot to prevent the seeds from taking moisture from your body.  When you take them with a lot of water or juice, they are a great way to hydrate yourself.  One note to add is that when you heat up chia seeds, the live enzymes get killed, as with all living digestive enzymes in foods, so eating them raw will give you the most benefits.  A lot of people add chia seeds to their yogurt or their oatmeal.  If you want to add them to your oatmeal, you could make your oatmeal as usual and then add some cool water with your chia seeds or make chia gel ahead of time and add it.

What are chia seeds similar to?  Chia seeds are very much like flax seeds when it comes to their nutritional value, except they are very stable (don't go rancid).  Chia seeds contain more calcium and provide more energy than flax.  They provide more dietary fiber and less fat than flax.  They also provide a balanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs.  They also contain a lot of antioxidants, whereas the flax seeds don't have any.  Chia seeds help regulate blood sugar levels, enabling diabetics to keep their sugar levels from spiking as much.  They slow digestion of carbohydrates and can aid in weight loss by making you feel full longer.

Why are chia seeds so healthy?  This question is partially answered by my answer to the previous question.  On top of that information, I will add that chia seeds are a good source of protein and contain calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin A, and many of the B vitamins.  Chia seeds are a great source of antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.

Do you have any recipes for using chia seeds?  I am currently coming up with recipes.  Right now, I have 3 recipes for chia seed pudding on my blog.  I have a recipe for meat loaf that I am currently perfecting (almost done) that uses chia seeds.  I am also working on a Chocolate Rum Raisin Pudding using chia seeds that I blend in the blender until smooth.  I plan on coming up with many more recipes over the coming months that I will be sharing.  In the meantime, you can find lots of recipes online.  Just do a google search.  There is also a good book, The Magic of Chia, that you can find on for a decent price.  I plan on ordering that book soon.  I am interested in looking at the many recipes included in it.

How much does chia cost?  Is it expensive?  There seems to be a wide variety of prices on chia seeds.  I was recently disappointed to find that our local health food store is trying to sell chia seeds for over $30.00 per pound!  I found chia seeds on for $4.59 per pound, with free shipping!  I have found the seeds for many prices in between, but Amazon is the cheapest.  Considering that a small amount goes a long way, I feel that it is a decent price to pay.  I believe the price will probably lower as chia seeds become more and more popular.  Incidentally, if you purchase the seeds through amazon for that price, you have to buy a 5 pound bag of them.  You can purchase a smaller amount, though the price will be slightly more per pound.  Just do a search on amazon for chia seeds.  Even with the slightly higher per pound price, it may still be cheaper than at your local store.

You can find more information and a few recipes on chia seeds here:

The Chia Cheat Sheet and 10 Recipes

The Secret of Chia:  An Interview with James Scheer
Herbs are Special:  Chia
The Raw Food World:  Chia

Disclaimer:  I have included links in this post that will take you to several places where chia seeds are being sold.  I am including them only because there is valuable information on those sites that you may be interested in.  I am in no way advertising for these particular companies, and I am not making any money from them.  The information you will find at these places can also be found in The Magic of Chia book as well as other websites and/or books, not just sites that are trying to sell a product.
Do a google search for chia seeds and you will find a lot of information and recipes.

That's it for now.  I will continue to update this page as I find new interesting information.  Does anyone have any questions or comments?  Please ask your questions or leave comments in the comments section under this post, and I will respond as soon as I can.

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