A member of the mint family, the chia seed is a “nutrient and protein packed powerhouse” that boasts an interesting history and many useful nutritional applications. Here is to the superfood seed that is making it back into our diets after an ancient, rich history:
Around 2600 B.C., chia was considered one of the most important crops to the Aztecs living in Mexico. It was used as currency, offered to the gods and used in religious rituals, as well as for medicinal purposes. Warriors would use them as a source of energy, which is not far from their practical use today.
Five Chia Nutrition Facts
- Chia seeds have omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital in protecting against inflammation as well as assisting with brain development.
- They have a low glycemic index (GI), which means people with diabtes can use them to help control blood sugar levels.
- Chia seeds are extremely high in fiber (one tablespoon of chia boasts 5 grams of fiber!).
- Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants.
- The seeds boast high levels of protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.
More Interesting Chia Facts
Chia seeds are great for those on a gluten free diet; chia can be milled and used as high-protein flour for gluten-free baking.
Chia comes in a variety of colors: black, dark grey, white, and brown. Warning: steer clear of the brown seeds, their color indicates that they are immature seeds or weed seeds.
Chia seeds have a very mild nutty, malty flavor.
Two Chia Recipes from Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood
Green Chia Super Smoothie
Green smoothies are all the rage. They are a great way to get a bold dose of veggies, fiber, and nutrients, in a healthy, convenient, low-calorie way. Here, a tablespoon of chia seeds creates an even more super-charged drink. This treat is best made in a high powered blender.
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 1/2 cups pear juice, coconut water, water, or a mixture
- 3 romaine lettuce of kale leaves
- 1 small cucumber, peeled
- parsley sprigs
- Add all ingredients into a blender and liquefy using the most powerful setting. Blend until smooth
- Drink immediately.
Gluten Free Chia Muffins
makes 2 dozen regular or 4 dozen mini muffins
- 1 1/2 cups milled chia
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/4 cup oil or melted butter
- 1/2 cup milk (dairy, coconut, almond, rice, etc.)
- 1/4 cup honey
- Optional: 1 cup raisins, fried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, frozen blueberries, or chopped peaches
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two standard muffin tins or four mini muffin tins with muffin papers, or lightly greased muffin tins.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the chia, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, mix together the egg, vanilla, oil, milk, and honey, combining thoroughly.
- Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients, then add the fruit, if using. Gently mix until just combined.
- Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full of batter.
- Bake in middle rack of oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Cool in the tins for 5 minutes before removing.
Bottom line: Buy these babies in bulk, because they store for years and years, and boast so many nutritional benefits that everyone could use a few in their diet.
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