Its so funny to me how we store information in our brains that we don’t even remember that we remember until we remember it. It just blurps up at just the right time sometimes. Yes, all the words of “Ice Ice Baby” at a karaoke bar is an example, but today I’m talking about something a little more useful for our health: CHIA SEEDS (pronounced CHEE-AH)!!And now pause for a pun:
“Three chia’s for chia! Hip-hip-HORAY, Hip-hip-HORAY, Hip-hip-HORAY!!!”
Or if you prefer:
“Cha-cha-cha-CHIA!!!” from the 1980’s infomercial about Chia Pets. Is there anyone out there who did not at one time or another have one of these interesting things right alongside their live sea monkeys? Yup, same stuff.
But I digress…
Several years ago, I was hanging out with my friends Baron and Jen Santos. Jen asked me if I had ever heard of these slimy little suckers. I had not. She proceeded to tell me all about how healthy they were for all kinds of reasons. In short, a super-dooper food. I guess it wasn’t meant to stick at the time, but just the other day, I was talking with a friend who is thinking of trying to get pregnant and I blurted out: “I think chia seeds are really good for helping you with that!” Huh? I didn’t even remember that I knew that. Then the next day I just happened (though I don’t really believe in coincidences…all things fit together perfectly) to be at the bulk section in Whole Foods and saw the NEW item: Chia Seeds! I proceeded to buy a couple pounds (only $12 per pound), give some to my friend, and then experiment with and learn all about their MANY health benefits. The following is a loose recipe for a super-yummy smoothie followed by some research I dug up on them.
(all measurements approximates. fix to your liking.)
2 pints berries, fresh or frozen (I used strawberries and blueberries b/c they’re in season)
1 cup raw milk or milk substitute (I used almond)
2-4 tablespoons green powder supplement
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
1 tablespoon honey
Ice, as desired. Wont need if berries were frozen.
3 raw fertile eggs
Blend all ingredients well in high-speed blender. If using fresh berries (as opposed to frozen), it will be runny. The chia seeds are going to make it sort of gelatin-like, so no need to thicken it up. If its really thick as soon as the blending is finished, I would recommend thinning it out b/c you will literally see it thicken before your eyes. Weird. Add eggs and blend on low speed until just incorporated (you don’t want to kill its fragile protein structure). Enjoy how you will feel all day long after drinking this. I have really been enjoying it before a workout.
From Dr. Andrew Weil (www.drweil.com)
Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. You may have seen chia sprouts growing on the novelty planters called Chia Pets, but historically, the seeds have been the most important part of the plant. In pre-Columbian times they were a main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets and were the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors. I’ve read that one tablespoon was believed to sustain an individual for 24 hours. The Aztecs also used chia medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin.
Chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds. And it has another advantage over flax: chia is so rich in antioxidants that the seeds don’t deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid. And, unlike flax, they do not have to be ground to make their nutrients available to the body. Chia seeds also provide fiber (25 grams give you 6.9 grams of fiber) as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.
Chia has a nutlike flavor. You can mix seeds in water and add lime or lemon juice and sugar to make a drink known in Mexico and Central America as “chia fresca.” As with ground flax seeds, you can sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds on cereal, in yogurt or salads, eat them as a snack, or grind them and mix them with flour when making muffins or other baked goods. I find them tasty and an interesting addition to my diet.
Chia is undergoing something of a renaissance after centuries of neglect. It was a major crop in central Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C. and was still cultivated well into the 16th century, AD, but after the Spanish conquest, authorities banned it because of its close association with Aztec religion (Indians used the seeds as offerings in rituals). Until recently, chia was produced by only a few small growers, but commercial production has resumed in Latin America, and you can now buy the seeds online and in health food stores.
Another advantage: when added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia forms a gel. Researchers suggest that this reaction also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar.
Because of its nutritional value and stability, chia is already being added to a range of foods. Research has shown that adding it to chicken feed makes for eggs rich in omega-3s. Feeding chia to chickens enriches their meat with omega-3s; fed to cattle chia enriches milk with omega-3s. Chia can also be added to commercially prepared infant formulas, baby foods, baked goods, nutrition bars, yogurt, and other foods. Another bonus: insects don’t like the chia plant so it is easier to find organically grown varieties. I expect we’ll soon be hearing much more about chia and its health benefits.