What Are Chia Seeds?
Chia is a desert plant known for providing stamina and endurance. It was traditionally grown in Mexico and the American Southwest, and it was an important grain of the Aztecs. While they were one of the four staple foods of the normal Aztec diet, warriors would carry them in a small pouch as their primary diet when they were traveling or in combat situations. They were so important to the Aztecs and their diet that they used them as currency. A runner friend of mine shared that long-distance runners often carry them in their mouths to stay hydrated on long runs.
Chia Seeds Offer A Ton of Benefits:
- A complete protein
- A great balance of essential amino acids
- A higher protein content than any other grain- 20%.
- Gluten free
- Higher Omega-3 fatty acids than Atlantic salmon
- More antioxidants than blueberries
- Substantial amounts of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and boron (helps absorb calcium)
- Large amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber
- B vitamins, copper, zinc, potassium, and iron.
Amazing benefits in a tiny little seed. They are an easy addition to your diet to boost your nutritional intake.
How Are They Eaten?
Unlike the other ancient grains, chia is commonly eaten raw. Like most grains, nuts, and seeds, traditionally, it is always soaked before using.
Grains, seeds and nuts have an anti-nutrient protecting them. Think of it like armor. This phytic acid protects the grain, seeds, and nuts until it is time to grow into a new plant. The armor protects the “insides”- the nutrients, minerals, fiber, and enzymes locked inside the grain, seed or nut. The phytic acid guards those nutrients with it’s life an doesn’t allow them to be released. It will even steal nutrients, minerals, fiber and enzymes from other foods digesting in your digestive tract.
By preparing grains in traditional ways like soaking, sprouting, and sourdough and preparing seeds and nuts by soaking or sprouting, you are basically tricking the seed into thinking it is time to grow. The seed begins to open up and release phytase. This enzyme breaks down the phytic acid, releasing all those nutrients, minerals, fiber, and enzymes so that your body can use them.
I know, I know- an extra step. It’s really a worthwhile one, though! It relieves a ton of gut trouble and allows your body to actually make use of all that great stuff locked inside!
Soaked Chia Recipe:
When you soak it, chia turns into a gel that can be used in shakes, yogurt, on side dishes, in grain and pasta dishes, and much more.
- 3 Tablespoons raw organic chia seeds
- 1 cup filtered water
Mix in a jar or covered container and stick in the fridge overnight.
A lot of grains and seeds are sprayed just before harvest with an extra round of the herbicide glyphosate (linked to developmental and reproductive issues and some cancers) just before harvest. This extra spray causes wheat and other grains to actually produce more just before harvest. Since you can’t rinse chia seeds, and since glyphosate absorbs into things anyway so that it can’t be washed off, organic is just a safer way to go.
Want Some Great Recipes?
Try mixing them into a shake, into your oatmeal, into your yogurt, or into your water (add a little lemon or lime juice and maybe a squirt of honey, and you’ve got a Chia Fresca drink).
My favorite way to drink them is in my morning shakes. I use:
- 8 oz milk kefir (you could just use milk, but the benefits of kefir are incredible)
- 1/3 cup chia gel (not seeds! Remember, that is only about 1 Tablespoon of seeds)
- 1/2 cup frozen fruit (Cherries go great with the powder I use for my breakfast shake, so that is my go-to breakfast shake)
- 1/4 cup ice (makes the texture better)
My kids love my kefir “milk shakes” with chia all ground up inside. We make shakes with frozen mango, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple…and we even often mix in frozen veggies like carrots, celery, spinach, kale, and cucumber. We just put a bunch of goodies in sandwich bags, freeze them, and then pop them in the blender with some chia and kefir. Yum!
Stay tuned for more recipes with Chia, as well as a spotlight on some other fantastic ancient grains!
Want More Like This?
My desire is that through this blog, you will be inspired to:
- engage deeply with the Lord and those you care about
- embrace wholly, bringing your whole self to the table to connect with others, and
- delight lavishly, celebrating the consequential and minutia of life.
Eating nourishing foods prepared in a way our body can access them best helps us to have the energy and resources to do these things.
Check out some other recipes designed with this in mind:
Great Resource on Ancient Grains (where I got some of my facts): Cooking With Ancient Grains: 75 Delicious Recipes for Quinoa, Amaranth, Chia and Kaniwa by Maria Baez Kijac.