What comes to mind when you think of chia? If you thought of the Chia Pet, the clay figurine that sprouted a grass-like coat, then you need to shift your thinking!
In this post we will be talking about tasty edible seeds that are packed with nutrients. Although chia seeds have recently become a trendy “superfood,” they are anything but new. “Chia” means strength and ancient civilizations allegedly used this tiny seed as an energy booster.
Five others reasons to include chia seeds in your diet include:
- Fibre: One serving contains 11 grams of fibre*. Fibre increases fullness. Fibre also helps the healthy bacteria grow and multiply within your gastrointestinal tract.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: chia seeds contain more omega-3s than salmon when comparing them gram for gram, however, the type of omega-3s is mostly Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA). ALA needs to be converted into the active forms, EPA and DHA, before it can be used by the body. However, our bodies are inefficient at converting ALA into these active forms. For this reason, we should still consume other food sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as omega-3 rich fish like salmon or trout.
- Bone health: Chia seeds contain many nutrients that are beneficial for strong bones including calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and protein. In fact, chia seeds contain 18% of the recommended intake for calcium!*
- Heart health: Chia seeds are high in a soluble fibre which is known to lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol levels.
- Fun: Chia seeds are a versatile food that can be easily added to any recipe to boost the nutritional value and add a ‘pudding-like’ texture.
*serving size is 1 ounce (28 grams)
Easy ways to include chia seeds in your diet:
- Sprinkle them on top of oatmeal or yogurt.
- Top your salad with chia seeds for a satisfying crunch.
- Add chia seeds to pureed fruit to make a no sugar added chia jam. (thaw ½ cup of berries and mix them with 1 teaspoon of chia seeds. Let it sit for 5 minutes before using the jam on toast or protein pancakes).
- Use them as an egg substitute for vegan dishes (to replace one egg, grind 1 tbsp of chia seeds and mix them with 3 tbsp of water. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes before adding it to your recipe).
- Add chia seeds to granola bars and other baked goods to give them a nutritional boost
- Use them in overnight oats
- Make chia seed pudding for a tasty snack (see below)
Where to find chia seeds:
- Bulk Barn
- The natural or organic food section at most grocery stores
- The food section of Home Sense or Winners
Chia pudding is an easy way to incorporate chia seeds into your diet. While there are many versions of chia pudding, this recipe is simple and easy to customize to fit your personal preferences. I typically make the recipe with a combination of milks including 1 can of full fat coconut milk and 1.5 cup of unsweetened cashew milk (inspired by my friend, Jocelyn!). I find that the richness of the full fat coconut milk adds a subtle sweetness that doesn't require any extra carbs from honey or maple syrup.
The recipe is easy to customize. You can lower the total fat content of the recipe by replacing the full fat coconut milk with three cups of your favorite milk or milk substitute (cow's milk, unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened cashew milk, or light coconut milk would all work great!). To make the recipe higher in protein, consider stirring 1 scoop of protein powder into the base recipe. You can further customize the nutrition content with fun add-ins like fresh berries, nuts, unsweetened coconut, or sweeteners like stevia or honey. The recipe is loaded with fibre so it makes a great snack that provides long lasting and stable energy. I often enjoy it after supper as dessert!
Note: the Nutrition Facts for this recipe is based on making the recipe with 1 can of full fat coconut milk, 1.5 cups of unsweetened cashew milk, 1/2 cup chia seeds, and no sweetener.