Remember the song– Cha Cha Chia? The chia pets that were the big rage years ago. Well, turns out that instead of using them to grow green hair on a terra cotta figurine they have a much greater purpose. I didn’t realize that you could actually eat them until well into my 20’s. Now, at age 40 I find myself consuming them almost daily. This is not a new discovery as the Aztec warriors ate chia seeds to give them endurance and high energy. Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language, and runners and warriors would use them as fuel while running long distances or during battle. It was believed that just one spoonful of chia could sustain them for 24 hours. Chia seeds have been around for a long time and for a very good reason.
They are a superfood.
Packed with nutrients, like omega-3s, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc and magnesium. They are also loaded with fiber (10 grams per ounce) and contain protein! In addition to the nutrition they contain research has found that chia seeds can help promote healthy skin, reduce the signs of aging, support the heart and digestive system, can help build stronger bones and muscles, and more. They’ve even been linked to helping reverse diabetes.
What are they?
Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. Its origin is believed to be in Central America where the seed was a staple in the ancient Aztec diet. The seeds of a related plant, Salvia columbariae (golden chia), were used primarily by Native Americans in the southwestern United States.
How to Eat Chia Seeds
Chia seeds can be eaten raw or prepared in a number of dishes. Sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds on salad, cereal, rice, yogurt or vegetables. Chia seeds are very absorbent and develop a gelatinous texture when soaked in water making it easy to mix them into many different dishes and cuisines. VEGANS….. Chia seeds are great if you are looking for an egg replacement ( Stay tuned for a future blog post about this process). I have made cookies, waffles, and crepes replacing eggs with chia seeds.
The seeds are not the only important part of the chia plant; the sprouts also are edible. You can add them to salads, sandwiches and other dishes.