Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ch Ch Ch Chia

This is not a flash back to the 1980s when chia seeds became popular as the means to grow fur and hair on kitschy ceramic animals and heads. I have never owned one of those, but I do regularly buy large bags of chia seed in the organic section of my local grocery store.  I had been hearing about the health benefits of chia for a couple of years now, but it wasn't until I started working out a year ago and became even more focused on everything I put into my body that I decided to try them.  Chia seeds have been shown to have numerous health benefits in addition to being a great substitute for eggs in recipes because of the gelatin like binding structure of them when soaked overnight.  (1/4 C. soaked chia seeds equals 1 egg). They are the highest vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids, high in fiber, protein, as well as manganese and phosphorus (good for bones).  The reason I started using them was because I was always hungry during my morning workouts even after eating a large breakfast, and chia seeds have the amazing ability to expand up to three times their size and therefore slow the digestion process by keeping the stomach fuller for longer.  They are known to increase energy and endurance and help the body to rebuild muscles after exercise, and even more remarkably they have been shown to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, while increasing levels of good cholesterol.  For more information about their health benefits, check out the following websites:

When I first bought chia seeds, I would just sprinkle them on my cereal, wait a few minutes to let the milk soak in a little and then dig in.  But one of the coolest properties of chia seeds is their ability to absorb liquid so another favorite way to eat them is as a chocolate pudding that I often make in large batches and use in recipes all week as well as in my breakfast yogurt mixture.  I have even begun feeding it to the rest of my family in the hopes of reducing my husband's cholesterol naturally and increasing my children's nutritional intake.  My son requested a "strawberry chia pudding" so I mixed about 1/3 cup of the plain mixture soaked in organic soy milk and stirred in about one tablespoon of strawberry preserves.  He loved it, and I am glad I found a healthy alternative to jello to feed him.  Here is the basic guidelines for soaking chia seeds and the chocolate recipe that I use:

Soaked Chia Seeds
1/4 C. chia seeds
1 C. of liquid (milk, soy milk, juice, etc...)

Combine the chia seeks and liquid in a small bowl and whisk often for about 20 minutes until combined and starting to gel. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.  Lasts for about a week in the fridge.

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
2 T. dark cocoa powder
2 T. brown sugar
1/4 C. chia seeds
1 C. plain organic soy milk

Combine the cocoa powder and brown sugar in a small bowl.  Add in the chia seeds and mix together well.  Pour in the milk and whisk often for about 20 minutes until combined and starting to gel.  Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.  Lasts for about a week in the fridge.

chocolate and plain chia seed "pudding"

strawberry chia seed pudding
(my son practically licked the bowl clean)

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