Chia Seeds

The best things come in small packages

Chia seeds come from a Mexican desert plant, known as salvia hispanica, part of the mint family. Use of the seeds can be traced back to Mayan and Aztec cultures, around 3500 BC, and the word chia is Mayan for “strength”, due to their ability to increase energy and stamina.

At that time, chia seeds were a staple food – ground into flour, pressed for oil and mixed with water to drink. Given that the origins of cacao and chocolate come from the same part of the world, I think it’s safe to say we can trust that the Mayans and Aztecs knew when they were on to a good thing!

Chia seeds are a healthy, concentrated source of omega-3, complete protein, soluble and insoluble fibre, anti-oxidants and calcium, vitamins and minerals. They are naturally gluten free, can be absorbed by the body as a whole grain seed (no need to grind them down) and their mild flavour means they can be easily added to a wide variety of food and drinks.

If chia seeds had a party trick it would probably be their unique gelling action. When added to water, or other liquid, a gel coating is formed, increasing the size and weight of the seed, without adding calories.

The combination of all of these amazing characteristics mean that the tiny chia seed is useful for helping you stay full, providing steady energy, balancing your blood sugar and keeping you hydrated. Being high in anti-oxidants also means they will stay fresh and ready to eat for over two years, without a preservative in sight.

“That’s great”, you say, “but how do I use them?”

These mini marvels can be used in a variety of ways, including these:

  • Add to water or coconut milk for extra hydration and energy after exercise

  • Mix in with yoghurt or smoothies to add fibre and keep you fuller for longer

  • Add to soups or gravies to thicken, instead of using cornflour

  • Combine with milk, cocoa and spices for a rich, creamy pudding

  • Make a quick jam, heat in a pan with fruit like raspberries or blueberries and maple syrup or raw honey to sweeten

A plethora of other recipes are available on line so get searching.

As the saying goes, the best things come in small packages. It seems that the humble chia seed is certainly one of them.

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