This month’s Food Find is ‘Chia Seeds’. As promised in my last post in this series about Shirataki noodles, I am going to be posting about a healthy food and follow it up with a recipe featuring it. Chia seeds are a very recent addition to the Super Foods List and come to us from the Inca/Mayan culture, very similar to quinoa which has now become a staple in many kitchens including mine.
What are Chia Seeds?
The word Chia is the Mayan word for ‘strength’. It is known to give an incredible energy to people who eat it, and was used by Native Americans as a super energy food. It is a member of the sage family and comes in white and black egg shaped seeds. They are extremely hydrophilic, i.e. they have the ability to absorb several times their weight in liquid – almost 12 times. When eaten, the same happens with stomach enzymes, and hence it is believed to keep you full for longer, hence aid in wieight loss, diabetes and also used by athletes for energy and for sustaining hydration.
How are Chia Seeds good for me?
Chia seeds are naturally gluten free and grain free. 2 tbsp of chia seeds provide the same amount of protein as an egg, making it an excellent source of protein for vegans as well as for people who are allergic to eggs. Added advantage that it provides is that it is a complete source of protein, providing all the essential amino acids in an easily digestible form.
The same amount also provides upto 44% of your fiber intake for the day. It has more calcium than a glass of milk, more potassium than a banana, more antioxidants than blueberries, more Omega 3 than salmon and more iron than spinach.
Chia seeds are believed to control blood sugar, aid in weight loss, provide energy, strength and endurance and also provide intestinal regularity due to their high fiber content. It is also beneficial for people with thyroid conditions, hypoglycemia, acid reflux and for lowering cholesterol.
Chia aids rapid development of tissue, due to its incredible nutrient profile and easy assimilation. It can be very beneficial for those healing from injuries, people like bodybuilders who are always re-forming tissues and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Where do I buy Chia seeds?
Chia seeds are available in a number of resources online, but I have been buying them from ‘Trader Joes’. I buy a 5.3 oz(150 g) packet for $7.50, and it lasts quite a while. Due to the recent popularity of these seeds, I have also noticed them in the bulk foods section of the regular Kroger/QFC/Safeway stores, and it is priced much lesser than that of Trader Joes. Other resources include health food stores such as ‘Whole Foods’, PCC etc.
How do I store Chia Seeds?
One advantage of chia is that because it has such a high antioxidant content, the seeds stay stable for much longer, whereas flax, for example, may turn rancid and always have to be refrigerated. Chia seeds can easily be stored dry(at room temperature) for 4-5 years without deterioration in flavor, odor or nutritional value.
How do I use Chia seeds?
Since chia seeds absorb a lot of liquid, the most common way of eating it is to soak it in liquid to make a gel.
Basic Gel is made by mixing 1 oz of seeds to 1 cup of water, juice or other liquid. Stir it well and leave it in the fridge. You can add flavorings or pureed fruit to this mixture. This can be stored for up to 3 weeks, but you can eat it after 10 minutes. You can also make the gel by creating a chia powder by grinding it in the coffee grinder/mixie, and proceeding with it the same way. You can use it as a thickener to smoothies, puddings, granola, morning yogurt and to salad dressings, batters for pancakes, cake batters, sauces etc. or just eat it as is.
As an Egg substitute:Mix 1 tbsp chia powder + 3 tbsp water and use in place of eggs in baking.
Flax substitute: You can substitute chia in any recipe that calls for flax, just use the same amount as the flax called for in the recipe.
Cornstarch substitute: For thickening sauces, soups, gravies and in making puddings, you can use half the amount of cornstarch called for in a recipe in place of cornstarch.
I have used Chia in puddings, milk shakes, smoothies and just stirred into my morning yogurt. It reminds me very much of sago in texture. I have found that it is true that it does keep me full for longer, and seems to give me more energy. I’ve also noticed that it keeps my blood sugar well under control. I will be posting a lot of chia seed recipes starting this month.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not in anyway endorsing a specific product or store through this post. This post is only intended to provide awareness on the health benefits of Chia seeds . I do not receive any sort of monetary benefit for having to write this post or series.Pin It