Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica, which is related to the mint plant and this grows natively in South America. Chia seeds were an extremely significant food for the Aztecs and Mayans as they valued them for their ability to provide sustainable energy. “Chia” is, in fact, the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” They were known as the “Indian Running Food” because runners and warriors would use them for sustenance while running long distances or during battle, but despite their history as a dietary staple, only recently did chia seeds become recognized as a modern day super food. In the past few years chia seeds have grown exponentially in popularity and are now included in the diets of health conscious people all over the world.
The list of health benefits of Chia seeds is endless and they really justify the title of ‘Super food’. They are a concentrated food containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, antioxidants, and calcium. Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds (unlike flaxseeds). 2 tablespoons contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fibre, plus loads vitamins and minerals.
Chia Seeds are very easy to include in your diet as they taste rather bland (a mild, nutty flavour) you can add them to pretty much anything. They can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, added to porridges and puddings, or added to baked goods for a nutritional kick. You can also sprinkle them on top of cereal, yogurt, vegetables or rice dishes. Because of their ability to absorb both water and fat, they can be used to thicken sauces and even used as an egg substitute in recipes which is great for vegans. They can also be mixed with water and turned into a gel. Making a chia gel softens the seeds and makes them easier to eat and more versatile for use in recipes. An added benefit is that the soaked Chia seeds absorb the flavour of whatever liquid they are soaked in, making some interesting flavour combinations possible. In short, adding chia seeds to recipes will dramatically boost the nutritional value of the meals you eat.
Photo by Renee Blair for
Try this Vanilla-Almond Chia Breakfast Pudding that we love from the Daily Burn for a healthy kickstart to your day:
Yields 2 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Soak time: 1-8 hours
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk, homemade or store bought
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or raw honey
- Seasonal fruit for topping (blueberries, peaches, figs and plums are pictured here)
- Almonds or other nuts for topping
Combine almond milk, chia seeds, vanilla and sweetener in a bowl. Mix well until combined and the mixture begins to thicken. Store covered in the refrigerator overnight or for at least an hour.
Stir well before serving and add a bit of water to the pudding if it becomes too thick. Top with fresh fruit and nuts of your choice.
Note: This recipe makes enough for two large servings, but feel free to double the recipe and keep it in your refrigerator so that you have breakfast for a few days in a row. It will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.