Last year my hubby was diagnosed with slight hypertension. While it may not be serious (yet!), it’s still of great concern, so in addition to following the doctor’s orders (never try to self medicate with health foods – actual medical supervision is always a must; you can find out more here), he started exercising more and eating a diet high in fiber and low in fat. I do my part by taking the kids to after-school activities to give him time to go running (health requires group effort so you need everyone to be on board) and by making lots of wholesome meals. My not-so-secret key ingredient? Chia seeds! They’re rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, meaning that the little miracles are heart-healthy, brain food that will give you gorgeous skin and boost metabolism. The gluten-free seeds are chock-full of antioxidants and minerals proven to reduce blood pressure (think calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese), as well as fiber to keep you regular.
More and more we’re seeing chia seeds in prepared foods and drinks like the kombucha sold at Whole Foods. I don’t know about you, but fermented yeast and bacteria that tastes like old socks and vinegar is not something I can stomach – especially at those crazy prices! It’s much easier to work the seeds into recipes you enjoy, and you don’t need a chia pet to do it (yep, it’s the same chia). They’re tasteless yet filling, so you can add these to virtually anything or just eat them whole. I always keep “chia seed gel” (they look like tapioca when soaked) in a Mason jar to put in drinks. Since blending the seeds in a smoothie makes the consistency too thick, I just stir in this gel after my smoothies are made. Read up on more recipes and other health benefits in Doctor Wayne Coats’ book Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood (on Amazon for $10.44), then check out some of my favorites below or share some of your own!
Chia Seed Gel
You can double or even quadruple this recipe as needed! It’s just ¼ cup of chia seeds and 1 cup of water.
Chia Seed in Salad Dressing
Soaking the seeds in an oil and vinegar type dressing will instantly make your salad into a molecular gastronomy masterpiece, especially in a mix of tomato, arugula, and red onion. Put a few dabs around the outside rim of your plate to show it off. Just make sure you choose a watery vinegar, not aged balsamic, in order for the chia seeds to absorb it.
Chia Seed Lemonade
Stir all of this up, then give the seeds five minutes to absorb the liquid and puff up.
1 tbsp. of chia seeds (or add 2 tbsp. of chia seed gel)
8 oz. of water
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp. of honey
A few mint leaves
Chia Seed as a Thickener for Sauces & Gravy
Another great use of the chia seed is as a thickener. This is especially helpful if you are gluten intolerant like me and can’t use flour. It’s also so much easier to cook with because it won’t clump together and make the sauce or gravy lumpy. Use a Vitamix or other high-powered blender to turn the seeds into a fine powder. You can add this directly to your sauce as it’s in the pan, and it will thicken in one to two minutes.
Chia Seed Chocolate Pudding
This is a real treat the whole family will love and not because it’s healthy. My kids love this and think it’s the real deal. It’s basically chocolate milk with chia seeds, but sprinkling the grated chocolate makes the pudding seem decadent and it really does taste like a dessert that should be bad for you!
1/4 cup of chia seeds
1 cup of almond milk (or regular milk)
2 tsp. of chocolate milk powder (or whatever you use to make chocolate milk at home)
1 tsp. of grated dark chocolate