It has been very difficult to wrap my head around all the exotic seeds and grains that have been making headlines lately. Harder yet is working them into as many recipes as possible. I have decided to take it one seed at a time and figure out the benefits of each and how to work them into my everyday life. I am starting with the chia seed since Dr. Oz stated on the Oprah show ” the chia seed may be one of the healthiest things around”. Here is what I found out.
Chia is the Mayan word for strength. The chia seeds were used by ancient cultures as mega-energy food and today used by a lot of athletes for endurance and enhanced energy (think marathon runners). The chia seed has twice the protein of any other seed or grain and five times the calcium of milk. Most importantly, they are the richest plant source of Omega-3 – (the vital fats that protect against inflammation such as arthritis and heart disease.)
Here are just a few of the benefits.
Chia Seeds To Help Lose Weight and Gain Energy
- Helps with weight loss. Chia seeds are popular for weight loss because they reduce food craving by preventing some of the food that you eat from getting absorbed into your system. This blockage of calorie absorption makes them a great diet helper.
- Feel fuller faster. They absorb 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel.
- There is evidence that they can aid in reducing blood pressure.
- They contain more Omega-3 than salmon.
- Chia seeds slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars and studies indicate that can help control blood sugar. This leads scientists to believe that chia seeds may have great benefits for diabetics.
- They are easier to digest than flax seeds, and don't need to be ground up.
- Inexpensive – Chia is reasonably priced. 1lb bags cost about $8.00.
OK – so now if you believe all that – why not make them part of your daily diet? Here are some ways to include chia seeds in your everyday diet.
Once a day you can take up to 2 tablespoons of the dry seeds and add them to fluid or sprinkle them on food like soup, oatmeal, quinoa, rice etc.
Be sure to drink water at the same time so the seeds hydrate from the fluid being consumed at the same time rather than the fluid in your body. This prevents dehydration.The seeds may also be added to water and juice.
The most popular and easiest way to use chia seeds is to make a chia gel.
When chia seeds are submerged in water the seeds open up, often absorbing nine times their weight in water, and form a tasteless gel called chia gel. This gel helps to keep your body hydrated. The best way to consume chia seeds is to take them after being soaked in water.
The Basic Gel
Simply add 1/2 cup of seeds (2oz) to 2 cups of water. Whisk the mixture well to avoid clumping. Wait ten minutes and whisk again then leave it in your fridge in a sealed jar. This will yield around 17oz of chia gel. You can begin to eat the gel almost immediately if you like. Just 10 minutes is enough time for gel to be formed. More of the nutrients will be easily accessible after a few hours in the fridge.
You can take the chia gel as is or mix into any drink or food. You can add the gel to sauces, drinks, salad dressings, hot/cold cereals, dips, soups or other liquid or creamy foods. The gel won't affect flavor. Three tablespoons a day three times a day is recommended.
- 2 tsp chia seeds
- 10 oz pure water
- juice of one lemon or lime
- agave syrup or maple syrup to taste
- ⅓ cup chia seeds
- whole grain tortillas
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp grain mustard
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- dash of chili powder
- olive oil
- Simply shake or stir ingredients together with ice.
- preheat oven to 350 degrees
- spread tortillas in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- in a bowl, combine chia seeds, chili powder, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, mustard and lemon juice, mix well
- Slice tortillas into triangle shapes
- brush each tortilla with olive oil and sprinkle mixture over triangle pieces
- bake for 5-10 minutes until tortillas are brown and crispy
- Serve with guacamole
Good luck with your chia experience. I am going to start by taking two tablespoons of seeds a day. I will say that I did feel a strong burst of energy after sprinkling a tablespoon in my vegan potato leak soup that I ate an hour ago. If you have low blood pressure – you might want to check with your doctor before consuming chia seeds since it is touted as lowering blood pressure.