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.