Food and Nutrition

Chia seeds: A non-guilty pleasure

Those of you who used to follow my old, retired blog might remember that I’m an absolute nutrition freak. Since it’s nearly summer I’m going to share one of my food obsessions… Chia seeds! (And one of the many neat things you can do with them.)

If you don’t already know, chia seeds are master shapeshifters. Put a tablespoon of them in water, and a couple of hours later you will have a cup of tapioca pudding. Or a similarly textured substance, anyway.

When chia seeds are left in water they expand into little jello-y balls that, given enough time to soak, congeal into a gelatinous semi-solid. You can even feel this process happening over the course of a minute or two by placing a couple under your tongue. You can see the chia seed beginning to expand on my fingertip in the photo below.

A single chia seed working its jello-y magic

A single chia seed working its jello-y magic

What I’ve started doing is putting a tablespoon of them in about half a cup of water (120 ml) or freshly-juiced orange juice, and leaving them in the refrigerator over night.

What I have the next morning is a cup of orange flavored, chia seed pudding that is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. It’s delicious! The texture of the soaked seeds is really fun to play with, too. If you have kids, it might be a big hit with them.

Another variation I make to have as dessert after dinner can be mixed as follows:
~ 1 tbs (14 g) chia seeds
~ 1/2 c (120 ml) water
~ 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (do this to your own taste preference)
a few dashes of cinnamon (again, to taste)

It takes 2 minutes to prepare, and it has such a great texture and taste for dessert or a quick snack. I put them in little 4 oz individual serving containers, but you could easily make a whole bowl of it. (That might require a longer refrigeration time to congeal, though.)

Image borrowed from choosingraw.com

Beyond the cool texture and yummy taste, chia seeds are also high in fiber, omega-3 fats, calcium, antioxidants, and fairly high in protein as well. Most of us consume too many omega-6 fats and throw off the desired 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fat intake. Stocking up on chia seeds is a great way to correct that ratio in addition to controlling the munchies in between meals.

They’re inexpensive, so give them a try for the entertainment value if nothing else!

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