Remember that commercial for Chia pets? It looked like it was made in the 70s and had a catchy jingle? You could call and order, and in a few weeks a bag of chia seeds would arrive with a clay pot shaped like an animal (I seem to recall a sheep), and all you had to do was add water and watch it grow! Well, those little chia seeds are creating quite a buzz these days. Apparently they have similar health benefits to the popular flax seed, but are even better for you. I recently read about them in a health magazine while I was getting a mani/pedi, but Dr. Oz was also talking about them on his show recently. Here’s what his colleague Dr. Daniel T Johnson had to say on his website:
“…The seeds are jam-packed with an array of disease-fighting and health-promoting nutrients. Chia is loaded with protein, very high in fiber, antioxidant content (they contain similar antioxidant power as blueberries!), and lots of water molecules which helps you stay hydrated when needing to perform your best and aids in digestion. They are also very high in an Omega-3 called ALA. Sources rich in ALA have been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Note: Omega-3 ALA does not appear as powerful however as the other two dietary Omega-3s, EPA and DHA). To me, the Omega-3 ALA in chia is just a small bonus on top of a ton of other nutrients. Chia seeds are also high in important minerals including calcium, phosphorous, and manganese that further help improve bone mineral density. There is something else interesting about chia seeds –the seeds dissolve inside your stomach and intestine to form a smooth, soft, gel-like substance that helps your body digest carbohydrates more efficiently before the glucose enters your bloodstream. This means a slower blood glucose and insulin rise, leading to better glucose stability and energy. This makes chia a “low glycemic index” food. Studies show that diabetics, who especially need to control their blood sugar, really benefit from adding chia to their diet…”
So as you can see, chia seeds are a great source of Omega-3, antioxidants and loaded with protein, fiber & calcium. Flax seeds are similar, but chia is better across the board. Also, you can easily add them to yogurt, cereal or smoothies without having to grind them (flax seeds need to be ground in order to be properly absorbed into your body).
Now, what inspired this post was a chia seed recipe that I tried over the weekend. I came across it while searching for a recipe for one of my favourite breakfasts in Jamaica – cold muesli oatmeal. This is a healthier version, and came from my favourite vegan recipe blog “Oh She Glows”. I used Angela’s recipe as a guide, but tweaked it a little. Here it is:
Overnight Chia Oatmeal
1 ½ cups Silk unsweetened almond milk
2/3 cup oats
4 tbsp. of chia seeds
Pinch of sea salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. hemp seeds
2 tbsp. raisins
2 tsp. coconut palm sugar
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup fresh berries (optional)
Mix the dry ingredients (oats, chia seeds, salt, hemp seeds, raisins and sugar) in a small bowl with a whisk. Add in the milk, vanilla extract & mashed banana and mix well.
Cover, and put the mixture in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
When you’re ready to eat, take it out of the fridge, pour a 1 cup portion into a bowl and top with fresh berries. You can also add it to plain yogurt to make a parfait. Mixture will keep in the fridge for 1 week.
1 serving is about 450 calories, but the ingredients make it a nutritious 450 calories; loaded with protein, fiber, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and potassium. This breakfast will keep you feeling full until lunch!