I want to let you in on a little secret.
See those little grey seeds up there that look kinda like sesame seeds? They’re my new obsession.
What are they, you ask? I’ll give you a
little OK, a BIG hint.
Did you guess it yet? Oh, you guys are TOO good!
That’s right! They’re Chia Seeds and I. Cannot. Stop. Using. Them. They’ve sort of replaced my obsession with wheat germ and flax seeds, for the moment. I’ve been putting them in and on everything and anything since they started stocking them at my local Trader Joe’s. I have to admit that before trying them out a few weeks ago, I’d never had them before. My only experience with the word Chia came from the annoyingly addicting commercial that came on the scene in the 70s. Now you can’t get the song out of your head either, right? You’re welcome. : )
Anyway, when I stumbled upon them and read about all of their health benefits, I knew they were right up my alley. I love finding little (easy) ways to boost the nutritional value of what my family and I eat and Chia seeds fit the bill perfectly. And shockingly enough, they were an easy sell to my 4 year old. After labeling them as Chia “Sprinkles,” he happily eats them on anything I decide to sprinkle them on.
What the heck are chia seeds anyway?
Well I’m glad you asked. Chia seeds are an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, which is a member of the mint family that grows throughout southern Mexico. While you may be more familiar with them as sprouts growing on your novelty Chia pet planters, these tiny seeds are anything but novel.
Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are a better source than flax. They’re also rich in antioxidants and can be stored for a long time without becoming rancid like so many other fatty acid-containing products. They can be eaten whole, which means you don’t have to grind them up like you do flax seeds and are a good source of fiber at about 6.9 grams per serving.
What can I do with them?
Since Chia seeds don’t have to be ground to be eaten, you can feel free to sprinkle them onto anything you’d like. Eaten naked, they really don’t have much of a flavor but they have a little bit of a crunch. When mixed into a liquid, they soak it up and become softer and more gelatinous in texture, which is quite enjoyable in beverages, yogurts and puddings. In fact, in mexico they mix it into different agua frescas and most commonly serve it in a lemonade that is just divine.
My favorite ways to use chia seeds:
Sprinkled over greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey.
Sprinkled over pancakes, waffles or french toast.
Mixed into smoothies or frozen inside popsicles.
Stirred into a beverage like lemonade — Chia Fresca! (popular in Mexico).
In an awesome Chia Coconut Pudding (recipe below).
This recipe is a great dairy-free dessert. It’s sweet and creamy and feels decadent but is still very healthful. I feel good about giving this dessert to my kids because of the nutritional value of the chia seed and they simply love the taste. Win. Win!
Coconut Chia Pudding
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
coconut flakes and berries for garnish
In a small bowl or large jar, stir together the coconut milk, chia seeds and your choice of sweetener (sugar or agave nectar) and cinnamon. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or until the chia seeds puff and expand.
Pudding may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Before serving, stir once and spoon into serving dishes. Garnish with coconut flakes and serve immediately.
Looking for more healthful treats? Try these: