You’ve probably heard about chia seeds, but have you tried them? They’re easy to incorporate into your diet, especially in a dessert. Why eat them? Are proteins, good fats, and fiber enough reasons for you?
For me, it takes a while to befriend superfoods. It happened with avocado, and also with quinoa. And chia seeds weren’t any different. I must admit I was reserved buying these small seeds that seem expensive, considering how small the pack is. But, when I found out that I only need 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to make a pudding, I found it easier to breathe.
Chia is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. Chia is grown commercially for its seeds and is a food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which absorbs up to 12 times its weight in liquid when soaked. While soaking, the seeds develop a mucilaginous coating that gives chia dishes a gel-like texture.
Chia seeds benefits
Despite their small size – one can even be smaller than 1 millimeter in length – chia seeds are full of important nutrients. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, a 28-gram, or one-ounce serving of chia seeds contains 131 calories, 8.4 grams of fat, 13.07 grams of carbohydrate, 11.2 grams of fiber, 5.6 grams of protein, and no sugar.
Foods that are high in fiber – like chia seeds - help people to feel full for a longer time, and they’re usually low in calories. Increased fiber intake and a high fiber diet may help you with weight loss. Plus, a diet with adequate quantities of fiber prevents constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
Chia seeds are high in antioxidants that help protect the delicate fats in the seeds and have various health benefits. Although they have similar health benefits to flax seeds, chia seeds may soon edge these out because they don't have to be ground prior to consumption, and they don't go rancid as quickly either. Plus, you can add chia to almost anything: from baked goods to bread, from porridges to smoothies, or added to salads or sandwiches. They can also be added to water or milk. Chia seeds are incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet.
3 ways to eat chia seeds
1. Chia seed pudding with anything
Do you know tapioca? Well, when mixed with liquid, chia seeds resemble tapioca pudding. To make chia seeds pudding, all you have to do is mix chia in a liquid of your choice. It may be milk or non-dairy milk or even water. To make it tasty - because chia seeds, although nutty-flavored, don’t have much taste – add spices and fruits.
You can try mixing unsweetened almond milk with cherries, cardamom, honey (or stevia), and vanilla extract in a blender, until smooth. Pour the cherry mixture over chia seeds and whisk, let it rest for 5 minutes, then stir again, continuously, until the chia soaks enough to make a pudding. Pour the pudding into bowls or glasses and top it with cashew or vanilla cream, and fruit slices. Of course, you can play with the pudding ingredients, as long as you keep chia seeds and milk as main ingredients. You can also choose any cream or frosting you like.
Chia pudding is a quick, easy and healthy idea for a snack or breakfast. I always have a pack of chia in my drawer and, anytime I crave for something sweet, I combine it with cow’s milk and honey, and add a sliced banana on top. It makes me feel satisfied for many hours!
Our favorite recipe of chia seed pudding looks like that:
2. Chia seed banana bread. Or muffins. Or waffles
No matter the season, banana bread is always one of my favorite baked goods. It’s perfect for coffee or afternoon tea, my daughter loves it, and it’s a nice gift when I’m visiting a friend. When I bring banana bread to work, my colleagues are happy and the last slice disappears before I notice.
Banana bread is satisfying. But, to make it more satisfying and add more proteins to it, you can make it with chia seeds. You can choose any recipe – and there are plenty on the Internet! – and swap out some of the flour with chia seeds. When you start making the batter, mix the dry ingredients: flour, chia seeds, and salt (but not the sugar!). Consider that seeds swell into gel-like globules and this takes up volume. Mix the wet ingredients (including mashed bananas) and whisk sugar into them. Then combine the dry and wet ingredients into a batter.
You can use the same process to add chia seeds to lemon cake, waffles, or muffins. You can actually add them to anything that requires batter!
3. Chia seed protein bars
Because they have no specific flavor, these seeds are easy to add to anything. And, because they are full of protein, healthy fats, and fiber, they are a great ingredient for protein bars. Grind some almonds, pistachio, pitted dates, and raisins. Then, mix this “dough” with chia seeds, unsweetened applesauce, and some coconut oil. If you want, add some protein powder, but it isn’t necessary. Use a rolling pin to roll the mixture into an even thickness. Cut into bars and freeze for at least 30 minutes. To keep them for a week, use plastic wrap to pack each one, individually, and place them in the fridge. They can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 months. If you want to transform these bars into really sweet dessert, serve them strawberry jam.