More than a Chia Pet
Do you remember the television ads for ceramic characters covered in green leaves? Sold only during the holidays, these seed sprouting kits must be the gift for the person that has everything. Chia seeds, surprisingly, are one of the healthiest foods on earth and are considered an amazing superfood.
Chia seeds come from a member of the mint family, Salvia hispanica L. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, calcium, antioxidants and are one of the richest known sources of dietary fiber. They can be consumed whole or ground and mixed with other grains into bread or added to smoothies for increased creaminess. Gluten free, chia can be part of a diet for those sensitive to gluten containing grains, like wheat. When you mix chia with water a gel is created. (Wet chia seeds remind me of tadpole eggs.) This works well as an alternative to eggs in baked goods.1 Mix 3 Tbs. warm water with 1 Tbs. ground chia seeds. Let stand 5-10 minutes.2
Chia – an ancient grain
Chia was one of the most important crops for the ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures long ago. They continue to be a food staple for the Tarahumara Indians, a Mexican tribe of super athletes, living deep in Mexico’s remote Copper Canyon. Known as “the running people” and the subject of the book Born to Run, they run 50 to 100 miles at a time just for the fun of it. Chia seeds and pinole (roasted corn cake) are the two staples of their diet.3 The Indians prize chia seeds for their ability to provide sustainable energy. One ounce (28 grams) or 2 Tbs. of chia seeds contains:4
- Fiber: 11 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 9 grams (5 of these are omega-3s)
- Calcium: 18% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance)
- Manganese: 30% of RDA
- Magnesium: 30% of RDA
- Phosphorus: 27% of RDA
Easy to incorporate into your diet, they can be added to anything, don’t need to be ground, they can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, added to porridges and puddings, or into baked goods. Chia seeds added to any recipe will dramatically boost the nutritional value. These seeds keep on the shelf for up to two years. The high quantity of healthy antioxidants act like a natural preservative, preventing them from going rancid. Chia seeds should be in every bug-out bag. Try it you’ll like it.
What are your plans to provide alternative protein sources in an emergency situation?
As you collect canned goods don’t forget about this vital nutrient. The human body is nearly half protein, found in muscles, blood, antibodies and enzymes which make other body functions work. Often commercially processed meats are loaded with salt to enhance the flavor. There are other sources. Here are some items to consider adding to your supplies.
- Nuts and Seeds – are high in protein and healthy fats. If you buy them prepackaged, they are ready to eat. They only last six months to a year, depending on the type of nut. Their high oil content reduces shelf life. Peanut butter is high in protein and available dried.
- Beans – are one of the longest cultivated plants, easy to digest and high in fiber. They also help maintain stable blood sugar levels by slowing the rate of carbohydrate absorption.1 Dried beans are economical and store well for an extended period of time. Store them in jars or mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. They will require water for presoaking before cooking, so plan ahead when preparing them. Cook with anise or coriander seeds to reduce flatulence as they’re digested by microbes in your intestine. There are lots of varieties for your culinary pleasure. Canned beans can be eaten right after opening, even cold in a power down situation.
- Chia Seeds – have double the amount of protein found in other seeds. Humans began eating chia seeds around 3500 BC. Aztecs and Mayans considered them magical because they increased stamina and energy over long periods.2 Chia seeds are high in fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium, and antioxidants as well. Because they absorb 12 times their weight, their expansion in your stomach will curb your appetite.
- Protein Powders – are available in three common forms, whey, soy and casein. Whey is the most popular because it is a water-soluble milk protein. It contains all nine amino acids necessary to build proteins in the human body. Soy has been favored by vegans, but recently it has been associated with altering estrogen balance. Casein powder is used with cheese production.
- Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) – is produced from soy flour after the oil has been extracted. It is cooked under pressure, extruded and dried. Soy flour has a long shelf life if kept in a cool, dry place. With varying flavors added, it can taste like sausage, beef, ham, bacon or chicken. Easily rehydrated, it is economical and an excellent meat substitute or meal extender. One ounce of TVP is the equivalent of three ounces of meat.3
- Freeze-dried Meat – has the water removed through sublimation, which turns water molecules into vapor. Freeze-drying food affects meat’s texture more than other preservation techniques. They are extremely light and easy to carry but more expensive to purchase. While some fruits taste great freeze-dried, meat will need to be rehydrated.
- Powdered Eggs and Milk – made by spray drying, the process removes nearly all of the water prohibiting the growth of microorganisms. Non-fat dried milk is best for long term storage. Eggs are available as whole, yolks and whites. Store cool and dry. Refrigerate when opened.
Billie Nicholson, Editor 2014
Additional Articles in the April 2014 Issue:
- A reminder to review and rotate three types of items in your 72 hour emergency kit.
- A discussion of the importance of “duck and cover” in surviving a nuclear attack
- Are members of your family hearing impaired that might not hear a smoke alarm?
- Our featured contributor this month is Tess Pennington of ReadyNutrition.com. She shares an article about Bio Mass Briquettes. Now you’ll have an environmentally friendly use for those shredded documents.
- Sun Ovens are a perfect partner for bio mass briquettes, here’s how …
- Some of our friends have complained that their yards were so shady that they doubted they could grow anything in a garden. In answer to their questions, here are some plants that can be grown in shade. Don’t give up on your yard either. Read more …
- Speaking of gardening, do you use Epsom salts? Here’s why.
- We can all be prepared to take the initiative to save a life, should we be faced with a life or death situation. Here are three critical first aid procedures that can be accomplished with one dressing.
- Our Solar Chef has included a wonderful recipe for Solar Stuffed Shells. Give it a try, these are yummy.
Billie Nicholson, Editor