Editor note: This is the first in an occasional series of blog features that will focus on health and wellness as it relates to cancer care and healthy living.
Those little black crunchy seeds seem to be everywhere, and unlike some dietary fads, there’s good reason. They really pack a nutritional punch!
Chia seeds come from a common garden plant known also as salvia and a member of the mint family. They’re a much more familiar dietary staple in South and Central American countries, but have migrated north as an up-and-coming health food product. Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which carry out a variety of important functions such as lowering triglycerides, reducing inflammation and improving brain function. Chia seeds also aid digestion, they’re gluten- and grain-free for those with sensitivity, and they’re a good source of magnesium, important for a range of bodily functions from DNA synthesis to muscle performance.
One tablespoon has an impressive 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein plus 3 grams of that good fat and just 5 carbohydrates.
So, what to do with these tiny, crunchy gems? Just add chia. Sprinkle on your morning oatmeal, mix in a whole fruit smoothie, shake onto a salad or sandwich for lunch. Keep a bag of chia seeds in your purse or car so they’re handy when you’re eating out or on the run.
If you want to expand your options, try these easy, go-to recipes. Do you have your own favorite Chia Seed Recipe? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post it on our blog!
Sprouted Chia for Salads
Add chia seeds to water, drain the water off and leave in a jar for a couple of days. Every 12 hours or so, rinse with water and pour off. In a day or two, you’ll have chia sprouts.
Homemade Energy Gel
To make this healthy version, add a couple tablespoons of chia seeds to a cup of coconut water. Let sit for 10 minutes, and you’re good to go!
2 cups coconut milk or other milk
½ cup chia seeds
2-3 Tbs. cocoa powder (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. or more sweetener of choice (optional—I use a few drops of stevia extract)
Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Will thicken in about 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Flavor variations: Substitute 1 cup strawberries for vanilla and cocoa or add cinnamon and nutmeg for a Chai chia pudding.
Blackberry Maple Chia Seed Jam
1 cup blackberries
1 Tbsp chia seed
1 Tbsp warm water
Stevia to taste
1/2 tsp maple flavoring (extract)
Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and mix to desired consistency. Slightly blending it will give it a jam consistency while blending it more will give it a jelly consistency. Pour mixture into a glass jar and place in the refrigerator for 60 minutes before serving.
Chia Egg substitute
1 Tbsp chia seeds
3 Tbsp water
1. Using a food processor, spice grinder or mortar & pestle, grind the chia seeds into a meal. Mix the water and ground chia seed meal in a small bowl. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or so, until it takes on a goopy texture similar to raw egg yolk. Use in your favorite baked goods or morning smoothies.
Raspberry Coconut Chia Pudding Pops
1/2 cup lite coconut milk
1/2 cut unsweetened almond coconut milk
3/4 cup raspberries
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
Stevia to taste
Combine all ingredients in large container. Mix well and close container. Refrigerate 4 hours to allow chia seeds time to expand.Pour into 4 popsicle molds and freeze overnight.
Chia Oatmeal Cookie
1 1/2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 bananas, ripened
3/4 cup old fashioned oatmeal (rolled oats)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks or carob chips
1 Tbsp creamy almond butter
Large pinch of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together the chia seeds and almond milk. Let the mixture sit for ~10 minutes or until seeds have greated a gel-like consistency. Pour the chia seed gel into a medium sized bowl. Add mashed banana, oats, coconut, almond butter and cinnamon. Stir until well combined. Gently stir in dates and chocolate chunks. Scoop dough (1-2 Tbsp size spoonfuls) onto a greased baking sheet. Use fork to press the dough down a bit to create a cookie shape. Yield is approximately 15 cookies. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies have browned a tiny bit. Remove from oven. Let cool.