How to Eat Chia Seeds
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Chia seeds have recently been added to the list of trendy ‘superfoods’. In case you haven’t heard of them here is some basic information: chia seeds are small black grain seeds that are harvested from a flowering plant called Salvia hispanica, native to Mexico and Guatemala. Before their explosion in the modern world, they are rumoured to have been an essential part of the Mayan and Aztec diets. When placed in liquid, the seeds swell up to ten times their stable size.
Okay, here’s the harsh truth: the concept of there being such a thing as ‘superfoods’ is mostly just a big marketing ploy. The size of the chia seed market is expected to reach $2.1 billion worldwide by 2022. But don’t buy into the promise that foods like blueberries, wheatgrass and green tea have instant weight loss abilities and the power to cure diseases. Healthy food doesn’t work that way. And yet the exaggerated hype about chia seeds does not erase the fact of their admittedly impressive nutritional value.
So, what actually makes chia seeds so great? They are rich in fibre, which gives the feeling of fullness, making you less likely to overeat later in the day, which can contribute to weight loss over time. Chia seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to enhance brain and heart health due to their anti-inflammatory effects. They are also high in protein, which is a plus especially for the vegetarians and vegans among us who rely on plant protein for their daily dose of it. On top of that, the seeds are rich in many minerals including calcium and magnesium. The combination of those nutrients contributes to a relatively slow digestion of the chia seeds, keeping blood-sugar levels stable.
Even after being aware of how wonderfully rich the seeds are in nutrients, you may not really be tempted by the idea of eating them by the handful. In their natural, dry form, chia seeds are not exactly bursting with flavour. Here are some ways to treat them in order to make them a bit more interesting:
A popular way to eat chia seeds is by soaking them in water or milk in the fridge for at least two hours or leaving them overnight. Their absorbance turns the seeds into a much larger, gel-like substance a bit like tapioca, giving them a pleasantly chewy consistency. Alternatively, you could soak them in fruit juice or another flavoured drink of your choice.
Another way to consume the seeds is by grounding them, which you can do yourself at home with a regular coffee grinder or some places sell it in that form.
Perhaps what brings out the flavour chia seeds the best is to toast them. This can easily be done by toasting them at low temperature in the oven in a baking tray.
So now that you’ve soaked, grinded or toasted your seeds, what can you actually eat them with?
On Their Pwn:
The impressive soaking abilities of chia seeds allow them to be the main bulk of a meal if that’s how you like them. Soaking them in almond or coconut milk overnight will make a delicious breakfast pudding.
In a Smoothie:
If you’re the smoothie type and want to add even more goodness to your green smoothie (or any kind really), soak a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds before adding them to be easily blended in their gelatine form. Alternatively, you can use grounded seeds, in which case you’ll need to add some more liquid to the smoothie since powdery chia absorbs liquid.
In Porridge or Cereal:
Want to start the day with a nutritious kick? Add some soaked chia seeds to your porridge or morning cereal. For the best combination, simply soak them in milk or water overnight for your porridge or add some roasted seeds to your crunchy cornflakes.
Sprinkle a small handful of dry chia seed over your favourite plain or flavoured yoghurt to add a little extra nutrition in the shape of a tickling crunch.
Ditch those sugar packed processed jams for a home-made, healthy version by combining your favourite fruits with chia seeds. The jell-like consistency that the seeds take in liquid matches the texture of jam perfectly. Pair up one cup of mashed fruit with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to create an ideal, additive-free consistency.
If you’re like me and delight in crust-covered meat and fish but are wary of starchy white flours, use this quick recipe instead: 1 cup of almond meal or cornmeal and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds. Feel free to add your favourite spices like garlic powder and turmeric into the mix to enhance the flavours.
In a Salad:
Toast the seeds and add them to a salad for added toasty texture.
You can even use the seeds as substitute for egg in baking, for example by using 1 tbsp. of ground chia seeds and 3 tbsp. of water. Some people use ground chia as a substitute for other ingredients like flower in bread and cake.
Hopefully you now have a better idea of what to do with these complex, and wonderful chia seeds. Though they won’t solve all your weight and health problems overnight, they are healthy and tasty additions to a balanced diet.