For this week’s Self Care Sunday, I introduce to you…the chia seed. It comes from Central America and is valued as a source for high Omega-3s, antioxidants, protein, fiber, calcium and other essential fatty acids and minerals. They are also touted for increasing energy. They are easy to use, have no real taste and are convenient to keep around.
As with any natural food source, although there are a lot of benefits to be excited about, there will also be reasons to temper your enthusiasm. In the case of chia seeds, there are two complaints that I have heard discussed: 1) Since they are a seed, they do contain phytic acid, which can make it harder for you to digest them properly for the full benefits, 2) Although chia seeds have the highest known levels of plant-based Omega-3s, it comes in the form of ALA which needs to be converted in to EPA or DHA for the body to use all of its anti-inflammatory goodness – BUT the body is not very efficient at converting ALA to DHA. Animal-based forms of Omega-3s such as fish, liver, fish oil, etc., still reign supreme.
Now that you know the truth behind what chia seeds can do for your body, let’s talk a little bit about how to use them.
Chia seeds are hard and dry, which you can see in the photo. But, one of their fascinating features is their absorption of liquid. Once in liquid, they will draw it in and form a gelatinous coating that surrounds each seed. Kind of a fun experiment to watch. Chia seeds are eaten in their gelatinous form, NOT as dry seeds. My favorite forms for adding the chia seed’s nutrition to my diet are as a drink, as a pudding, or as a substitute in recipes for eggs (I am back to eating eggs again, but for over a year I did not while my body healed).
Allow me to share with you one of my favorite recipes to help you to occasionally incorporate their goodness in to your diet. I really like to use this before hikes/exercise to give us an energy boost.
Chia Drink Recipe (no need to be exact, you can guess and be just fine):
- Start small with just 1 teaspoon of chia seeds to try it, but you can work up to using 3 teaspoons if you like.
- Filtered water
- Flavor of your choice (lemon juice, lime juice, elderberry syrup, etc.)
- Put the 1 teaspoon or more of chia seeds in the bottom of a 16 oz. glass Mason jar.
- Fill the Mason jar with filtered water.
- Take a spoon and stir your drink.
- Allow it to sit on the counter for a few minutes and stir again. Repeat 2 -3 times so that the seeds do not clump.
- Place in the fridge and leave for a few hours or overnight to complete the absorption process.
- Before drinking, add a flavor to it if you like. Remember, we do not want to add sugars or toxic dyes to our healthy drink. Instead, squeeze a lemon or lime (or both) in the drink. Another option is adding a tablespoon or so of elderberry syrup (known for its immune strengthening properties and ability to fight the flu) – this is one of my personal favorite additions, but it does have agave in it, so I rarely use it. Use any flavor you like, but keep it natural.
Add this healthy energy drink to your wellness toolbelt!
Let us know which flavors you like to add!