By Christina Lalor
For the longest time when I heard “chia,” all I would associate it with would be those super fun chia pets. Man, I loved those things, still do. Those commercials were hard to forget. But now, chia takes on a whole new meaning in my life. Chia seeds are one of the healthiest nutrition sources providing tons of health benefits, plus it doesn’t hurt that they make for some pretty delicious dishes. The word “chia” is actually the ancient Mayan word for “strength,” showing you already what a great source of energy it is! Read on to learn all about how chia seeds can benefit your health, different ways they can be used and of course, to get our delicious chia seed recipe!
I was first introduced to chia pudding working at a tea lounge in downtown San Francisco. It honestly didn’t intrigue me too much just looking at it, I’m a big texture eater. But then one day I was feeling a little more risky with trying out new foods and oh my goodness I am glad I did. I had it that day, then I had it the next day and the day after and the day after. It was the perfect snack- gave me the energy I needed to get through my shift, was delicious, and fun to make!
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are a superfood that come from the Salvia Hispanica, what we know as chia! It is a plant in the mint family, classified as sage, and is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. They are small, about 2 millimeters in diameter, oval and gray with black and white spots! Pretty distinguishable characteristics for a seed. Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that our bodies can absorb as seeds (unlike flaxseeds.) Their taste is subtle, having a nutty flavor and being a perfect complement for both sweet and savory dishes!
Although we are just using chia seeds in our recipe today, it’s good to know that the rest of the chia plant provides great value as well. The leaves of the chia are also edible, they are high in protein and make for a great addition to your salad. Chia in general is high in protein, antioxidants, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids!
Small, but Mighty
These small adorable seeds may be small, but they pack a lot of power in their punch. Just one ounce serving of chia seeds (about two tablespoons) contain 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat (5 which are omega-3s), calcium (18% of the RDI), manganese (30% of the RDI), magnesium (30% of the RDI), Phosphorus (27% of the RDI). RDI stands for “Recommended Dietary Intake” for those of you who were about to look it up.
They offer five times the calcium available from milk, that’s pretty crazy since I naturally associate calcium with milk most of the time. It also contains phosphorus, magnesium and proten- meaning it’s great for helping build strong bones!
This superfood also has a high amount of zinc, vitamin B3, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and potassium.
These guys are loaded with antioxidants, compounds that inhibit oxidation. Antioxidants protect some of the fats in the seeds from going rancid and help fight the production of free radicals, which can damage cell molecules and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer.
Nobody likes to see something high in carbs, we associate that with breads and glutens. But chia seeds’ carbohydrates are majority fiber, meaning they can absorb 10 - 12 times their weight in water (watch the coconut milk absorb into the seeds when you add them together). Chia seeds have been shown to help with weight loss.
Chia seeds have an increasingly important role in diabetes treatment
So chia seeds are non-processed, whole-grain, non-GMO, naturally gluten free, and usually always grown organically. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.
ALL OF THESE BENEFITS IN JUST ONE OUNCE BUT ONLY 137 CALORIES! Sign me up! This makes it one of the world’s best sources of very important diverse nutrients, calorie for calorie.
Easy to Incorporate
So besides this one chia pudding recipe we’ll be getting to shortly, how else can one incorporate chia seeds into their daily life? Easy peasy! There’s a ton of ways and most of the recipes are super simple! Here are just 10 alternatives to chia pudding for you to try!
13.5oz Can Coconut Cream
¼ Cup Chia Seeds
2 Tbsp. Honey (as sweet as you want it to be)
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
This is a very simple recipe that makes for a great snack for 2 - 4 people or a meal for one!
1. Combine the following ingredients in a medium bowl - can of coconut cream, chia seeds, honey and vanilla extract. (add honey for the sweetness you enjoy)
2. Scoop into your Élay bowl or to-go container
3. Top with strawberries, blueberries, cinnamon, shredded coconut and cinnamon (to taste).
You can scale this recipe to however much pudding you want to make and there are a ton of amazing toppings you can choose to make your pudding, well, yours!