Do you struggle with what to eat for breakfast? You’ve ditched the bagels and donuts but somehow have not yet found a quick and easy replacement. What if we told you that there was an easy, super delicious, uber-nutritious solution that won’t leave you with a mid-morning blood sugar slump? Enter chia seeds!
If your only connection to chia is some vague memory of a “ch-ch-ch-chia” pet commercial, you are in for a big surprise. Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family that’s native to Mexico and Guatemala, and history suggests it was a very important food crop for the Aztecs.
Chia’s amazing nutritional qualities
Chia seeds absorb up to 10 times their weight in water (or any liquid), creating a substance that looks like gelatin. Researchers believe that this same gel-forming phenomenon takes place in the stomach when chia seed is consumed. This slows the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar, creating stable blood sugars and greater satiety. In addition, the seeds are:
- A great source of soluble fiber. In fact, chia seeds contain 8-10 grams of fiber in a mere two tablespoons. This soft and fibrous gel scrubs and cleans intestinal walls as it travels through the body, and also creates a feeling of fullness (extra bonus for weight management).
- An abundance of nutrients including calcium, magnesium, copper, niacin, and zinc.
- A rich source of anti-inflammatory and brain boosting omega-3 fats.
- A good source of protein (6 grams in just 2 tablespoons)
Emerging research indicates that chia seeds have been shown to improve blood pressure in diabetics, and may also increase healthy cholesterol while lowering total, LDL, and triglyceride cholesterol. All good news for your ticker!
When buying chia, look for the white and black seeds; avoid red seeds which are considered immature. Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds don’t have to be ground and they don’t go rancid the way flax can.
Tasty Ways to Eat Chia Seeds
Due to their gelling action, chia seeds are often used as egg substitutes for people who have allergies or sensitivities to eggs. To substitute for an egg, mix 1 tablespoon chia seeds into 3 tablespoons of water per egg in a baked recipe.
Chia seeds can also be thrown into a smoothie or made into a pudding, which is one of our favs
since the seeds gel and absorb liquid. Prep time for puddings are pretty quick, but they need time to gel (about 20 minutes or so). That’s when you can toss the ingredients together at night and put it in your fridge and voila, when you open the fridge in the morning it is there ready for you to grab and go.
Word of caution . . . be sure to have that hand mirror handy as chia seeds stuck in the teeth make for a pretty smile – not!
Looking for some ideas and recipes on how to use chia? Or want some ideas on how to amp up your current chia pudding? You can get them here.