Laugh if you will, but chia seeds are the new superfood. Well, not so new, since they’ve been around since ancient times.
Yes, I’m talking about the same chia seeds that get watered on a head or little kitties and grows into a little mini landscape. Those seeds contain antioxidants, essential minerals, such as phosphorus, manganese, calcium, potassium, more iron than spinach, and more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. (Don’t use the ones that come in the Chia Head packages for consumption, though.)
Like quinoa, chia seeds are one of the few plant-based sources of complete protein, and have been used for hundreds of years for sustained energy. They were once a staple of Native American diets of both North and South America. In fact, I’ve read that “chia” is a Mayan word for “strength.”
Chia seeds purportedly increase strength and energy, helps retain hydration, and aids in weight loss. It’s great for diabetics because it lowers blood sugar levels. It’s also been said that chia seeds help in relieving thyroid conditions, IBS, acid reflux, hypoglycemia, and even Celiac disease.
You can use chia seeds in just about anything you would use flax seeds in: salad dressings, smoothies, yogurt, or just sprinkled on top of any dish. If you’re looking to replace eggs in baked goods, grind chia (or flax) seeds and use that in place of the eggs. The quantity depends on how many eggs are called for in the recipe, but here’s a general formula:
To replace 1 egg:
1 tablespoon chia or flax seeds—grind in a spice grinder
Mix with 3 tablespoons water
Note that products made with seeds instead of eggs will have a chewier consistency, so be judicious about what products you use them in.
This is my recipe for Beet-Apple-Chia Salad, which I like to have for lunch. Between the walnuts and chia seeds, there’s enough protein in here to get you through the afternoon. It makes 2 portions if you’re making it to serve alongside something else. But for lunch, I eat the whole enchilada.
4 small beets, roasted or boiled, peeled
1 tart apple, cored but not peeled
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 tablespoon chia seeds*
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the beets and apples into bite-sized pieces. Combine them in a bowl, along with the walnuts, chia seeds, oil, and vinegar. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Makes 2 servings.
*Chia seeds can be purchased in natural/health food stores, but may also be found in larger supermarkets with an organic/natural food selection. I found my bag at Trader Joe’s.