Chia seeds… An ingredient that has become more and more popular recently, included on the menu at your local smoothie shop or as the key ingredient in your favourite energy bar. But what actually are chia seeds and why is everyone going mad for chia?!
Where do chia seeds come from?
Chia seeds are the seed of the chia plant, which is native to South America and, perhaps surprisingly, is part of the mint family. There is evidence of chia seeds being used for their health benefits as far back as the 1500s, when the Aztec tribes consumed chia seeds for stamina.
“Chia” is the Mayan word for strength, and these ancient people understood the important health benefits of these seeds. The Mayans would grind chia seeds into flour, press them for oil or simply drink them mixed with water. These super seeds were considered magical due to their ability to increase stamina and energy for long periods of time.
Why are chia seeds considered a superfood?
Chia seeds pack a huge nutritional punch and can be considered one of nature’s most powerful superfoods. Just 2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds a day provides your body with 11g of fibre, 4g of protein, 18% of your RDI (recommended daily intake) of calcium, 30% of your RDI of both magnesium and manganese, 27% of your RDI of phosphorus and 5g of omega-3 fats. WOW! All of these nutrients combined will help keep you satiated for hours, provide a huge hit of antioxidants to keep your body cells in great shape and will also inject a sense of calm and relaxation into your day.
How To Use Them:
What we love about chia seeds the most is how versatile they are! They can be incorporated so easily into your diet in so many forms that there’s no real excuse to not be consuming them everyday. Because the hard, small seed develops a gelatinous coating when submerged in liquid, chia can be used as a thickener, a binder, a jam, or simply eaten on its own as a creamy chia pud! Check out some fun, tasty ways to get experimenting with chia in your own diet…
1. Chia pudding – Your magic ratio when whipping up a chia pudding is 3 tablespoons of chia seeds to 1 cup of liquid. All you need to do is stir the chia seeds into your chosen liquid and let it sit for about 30 minutes before adding your favourite flavours and toppings to make it into a pudding. Check out this recipe for Coconut Chia Pudding w Nectarine for a delicious and nourishing breakfast, snack or even dessert.
2. Jam – Chia jam is our fave way of getting creative with these super seeds. While normal jam can be time-consuming and full of refined sugars, chia jam is nourishing and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes. Check out this recipe for Raspberry Chia Jam that can be made in less than 5 minutes and makes the tastiest addition to freshly baked muffins, scones or even on top of your morning oats. De-lish.
3. Egg replacement – Because of the sticky, gooey texture that chia seeds take on when submerged in water, they can be a great replacement for eggs in baking (particularly handy for any vegans out there!). To make the chia equivalent of 1 egg, simply grind up 1 tablespoon of chia seeds until a powdery consistency is formed; you may like to use your blender, food processor or a mortar & pestle for this. Add 3 tablespoons of water to your powder and then let sit for approximately 5 minutes until it has thickened.
4. Superfood smoothie add-on – Adding chia seeds to your smoothies is a super simple way to flood your body with a whole host of nutrients while also giving your smoothie a decadent creamy consistency. We opt for 1 x The Chia Co. chia shot in each of our smoothies to reach the perfect balance of smooth and thick, however feel free to increase that to 2 chia shots if you prefer a thicker consistency.
We are loving The Chia Co. Australian-grown chia seeds for a daily hit of fibre, protein and omega-3. The chia shots are super handy for adding to a daily smoothie, providing the ideal amount of chia to create a decadent, creamy consistency. To learn more about The Chia Co. and all the amazing chia products they have on offer, follow this link here.