A Tiny Seed that Packs a Nutritional Punch

chiaseedsIf you’re looking for ways to boost the nutritional value of your diet without necessarily disrupting it too much, try chia.  For my clients who are not already eating chia seeds, they will frequently react with surprise, and I can understand why.  It took me some time to get past the idea of the chia pet and onto the seeds as the superfood that they are.

Salvia hispanica is a flowering plant related to sage that is native to central and southern Mexico.  The seeds are gray or brownish red and a white variety can also be found under the name of Salba.

By adding just one ounce, or ~2 tablespoons of chia seeds per day to your diet, you’re getting 11 g of fiber, 4 g of protein, a healthy dose of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, and high levels of calcium, phosphorous, zinc, and manganese; all for about 130 calories.

When added to a smoothie or bowl of oatmeal at breakfast, they’ll help balance your blood sugar and keep you satisfied until lunch.  You may be wondering how these tiny little seeds can keep you satiated.  The secret is in their ability to absorb many times their weight in water–keeping you full longer.

Although they’re digestible in their raw dried state, soaking them ahead of time will produce a gel that can be added directly to smoothies or dishes for thickening.

In a glass jar, simply add 1 part of seeds to ~8 parts of filtered water.  Combine and refrigerate for several hours.  To use, add a heaping tablespoon of the gel/seed mixture to smoothies, juices, dressings and sauces.

For a quick breakfast to take on the go, add 1-2 T of dried seeds and a sprinkle of cinnamon to 8 ounces of almond milk.  Soak overnight in the fridge and drink in the morning.   I’ve also ground them in a coffee grinder and used the powder in granola recipes.

chiapuddingCraving something in the afternoon?  Try a chia seed pudding.  This is something you can mix up the night before or in the morning and let it thicken in the fridge during the day:

1 c almond or other milk

¼ c chia seeds

1T unsweetened cocoa powder

1 t vanilla

1 T real maple syrup

½ t cinnamon or other spices

Mix the ingredients in a blender or shaker cup.  Pour into a glass bowl or jar and refrigerate for two hours or until thickened.  Garnish, if desired, with fresh berries or chopped nuts.   Makes 2-3 servings.