Chia: The New Avocado

July 17, 2009 at 9:03 pm 17 comments

Chia

I have found something that I love almost as much as avocado: CHIA SEEDS! Yes, those capital letters are me screaming/squeeling because I love it so much. I first bought chia in Atlanta while we were on tour, but didn’t really know what to do with it, so it sat in the RV pantry for the rest of the trip. I recently re-discovered this little gem and NOW I know what to do with it and wanted to tell you too.

Chia seeds are an ancient superfood…and although it seems like they have just become popular, they have actually been around for long, long time. The Aztecs, Mayans, and Incans all knew about these little balls of energy. Back then, they were referred to as “Indian Running Food” because it gives a sustained burst of energy and increases endurance (take note, all you athletes out there!).

Why should you eat chia?

Chia seeds are said to contain:

  • 2 times the protein of any other seed or grain
  • 5 times the calcium of milk, plus boron which is a trace mineral that helps transfer calcium into your bones
  • 2 times the amount of potassium as bananas
  • 3 times the reported antioxidant strength of blueberries
  • 3 times more iron than spinach
  • copious amounts of omega 3 and omega 6, which are essential fatty acids…

They are also a complete source of protein, providing all the essential amino acids in an easily digestible form. They are also a fabulous source of soluble fiber.

Stats courtesy of: Raw Reform

Chia seeds are different than flax because they won’t go rancid after a long time…and they don’t have to be ground to get the full benefits. Chia is also excellent for diabetics (and everyone for that matter) because it helps to regulate digestion and blood sugar levels.

If that’s not enough to convince you, I don’t know what will.  But now, I’m sure you’re wondering how to eat them (I know I was). First, you want to soak them to produce the “chia gel”. You can use them dry in granola, salads, etc…but I think they are much better hydrated. Then…take:

2/3 cup chia seeds
4 cups filtered water

Add the chia seeds to the filtered water. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Stir. Let it sit for 15 more minutes. Stir and put in the fridge. I just keep them in an open bowl because we go through them so fast and it makes for easy access!

At this point, you can use them for anything. Our favorite way to eat it is like cereal topped with fruit…peaches being our fave (see photo above). I start with a bowl of chia (start with a little because it’s VERY filling)…add 1 tablespoon lucuma powder, a bit of stevia, non-alcohol vanilla syrup and stir really well. Top with the fruit of your choice. Matt likes a little agave drizzled on top. I also like it with almond butter and bananas. If you’re looking for a new raw breakfast idea…this is it! Although we eat it for supper quite regularly too :)

Another way to use chia is in smoothies. It completely disappears when you “smoothify” it…so this is a great option for those who may not like the gelatinous texture.

You can also throw a couple of tablespoons of dry seeds in your water bottle before heading out the door and drink it with your water throughout the day or after a work out…it’s very refreshing (especially cold out of the fridge).

If for some reason we can’t buy food for awhile, I’m pretty much sure I’ll be set with my 5 lbs of chia. Maybe I should order more just in case :) My favorite place to get chia is from The Raw Food World. They have really high quality food and great customer service.

For more chia recipes, check out Angela’s write up on chia here. Or go to Gone Raw and search on chia.

P.S. Yes, these are chia seeds…of “The Chia Pet” fame. Same thing :)

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Entry filed under: Breakfast, Chia Seeds, Raw. Tags: .

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17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Becky Vartabedian  |  July 17, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Hi Sara – do you know if Chia has similar, er, “digestive” effects to flaxseed? I’m a raw food novice, and I’ve read several places that one must be careful about how much flaxseed they ingest – I’m just wondering if a similar caution should be observed with Chia seeds. Thanks!

    Reply
  • 2. Becky  |  July 17, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Ooo you got them in Atlanta? Where did you pick them up? I’d read something about chia seeds a little while back and have been wanting to try them! Your rave review has sealed the deal.

    Reply
  • 3. Rachel W.  |  July 17, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    How long does a 5 lb bag last? Also, do you by the organic or chemical-free chia seeds? I think they sound good!

    Reply
    • 4. Aaron  |  October 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      It seems I remember being informed that you don’t need to buy them organic because they’re a natural pesticide, or rather they don’t get sprayed because nothing eats them.

      Reply
  • 5. Rose  |  July 18, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Ohhhh!!! Thanks for posting about these Chia Seeds!!! I had bough some a while back and just made a gel out of it….i could NOT force it down!!! It did not taste very good so i have not used them since,but obviously I didn’t know that you could put other things in it! Few questions, how long does it stay good for in the fridge after you already have a gel?? And how do you store them? (When they are not in a gel) Also, this may be a dumb question, but can you chew them or do you just swallow them whole??? Its a strange seed but I keep hearing so many great benefits….I guess I just have to try adding a little flavor to make them taste better next time! Thanks for this great informative post!!!

    Reply
  • 6. livelightly  |  July 18, 2009 at 4:15 am

    Becky V…no, chia seeds should not have that same wonderful laxative effect :) Also, flax seeds do have estrogen like properties and that is why some people choose to avoid them. Chia does not. Many health experts are recommending replacing flax with chia.

    Becky…I think I got them in Rome. However, you could check Life Grocery in Marietta: http://www.lifegrocery.com They have a large raw foods section and if I remember right, a bulk section dedicated just to raw foods. I would think with all the publicity chia has gotten lately, they would have it. Whole Foods probably has it as well. I could not find it locally in Bozeman.

    Rachel…I think we went through a one pound bag in about 2 weeks…maybe a little less. That is when we are eating it every day. I guess it would vary depending on the size of your family, etc.

    Rose…we eat it so fast that I’m not sure about the fridge life. I think at least a week, maybe even two? Although, their shelf life is FIVE years, so it could be much longer than that. When you eat them, they just kind of “slide down” without chewing :) They really don’t have any taste by themselves…so the flavor you would be tasting would be whatever you added to them.

    Reply
    • 7. rosanna111  |  July 18, 2009 at 9:30 pm

      Great, thanks Sara!!

      Reply
  • 8. Whitney  |  July 20, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Hi Sarah! I love, love this website… while I don’t eat raw or vegetarian or organic (yet!), it’s my daily encouragement to take the first steps to eating healthy.

    My husband and I are on a very tight budget, and I was wondering if this life-style ends up being pretty expensive. Right now, the only reason we don’t eat organic food is because we can’t afford it. I would love to someday, though. What little changes would you suggest making to eat healthier and not spend a lot of money? Also, if you don’t mind me asking, how much is usually spent a month on a diet like this?

    Reply
  • 9. livelightly  |  July 20, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Whitney…thanks for the kind words! The raw lifestyle can certainly be more expensive than a cooked one. For my family, we don’t have health insurance or spend money on prescriptions, etc…so that is kind of figured into our food budget as preventative health. We also eat out much less than when we are eating cooked food.

    We are currently spending about $800/month for our food…but I could make it work on $400-500. We don’t eat 100% organic…in fact most of our produce isn’t organic. We can’t afford it right now. I do buy organic for certain items, like apples, strawberries, etc.

    If you can’t do 100% raw organic…just start adding MORE raw. Add a salad to your meals. Add a piece of fruit in the morning. Every step counts!

    Reply
  • 10. Cara  |  July 21, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Chia seeds totally rock! I was doing ground-up flax seeds which I thought were good, but chia seeds are even better in my opinion. I do almost two tablespoons in my green smoothies. What I do is put those 2 T worth in a glass of water to soak the night before, and the next morning I have the glassful of chia gel to do the smoothies with(fruit, and these days, kale and chard including stems, since now I have a Blend-tec high-speed blender). Personally, I HAVE noticed the laxative effects of chia seeds – I really notice a difference when I don’t do them even though I’m getting plenty of raw foods and water. My body seems to need something gelatinous to move things along, if you know what I mean. Good stuff. They’re REALLY compatible with going to the gym and working out too, the way I do. In fact, I’ve gotten better results in strength, endurance etc. on green smoothies powered up with the chia seeds and sometimes with hemp seed protein powder than I ever did back in the days when I was eating a whole bunch of animal protein. Glad you put up the nutritional stuff about these too!

    Reply
  • 11. cavewoman  |  July 30, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    This looks interesting….

    Have you ever used it in jello?

    Reply
  • 12. Rachel  |  August 2, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Sara, when you use the Chia seeds for a breakfast porridge, do you eat is cold or warm—or is it even possible to eat warmed?

    Reply
  • 13. livelightly  |  August 2, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    cavewoman…nope, we don’t eat jello at our house, but it does have the consistency of jello!

    Rachel…I eat it cold (out of the fridge) but you could soak it in room temperature or even slightly warm water if you want. As with anything else that you want to be “raw”, you can’t heat it over 118 degrees.

    Reply
  • 14. tara Kelly  |  March 25, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Thanks for the intro to these!! Thanks to you I took the little baggie of chia seeds I got a while ago out of the pantry. I made some gel today and chilled it. Now I’m eating a bowl of my freshly made dehydrated granola, chia gel, blueberries and raw fresh cream. num num!!!

    Reply
  • 15. livelightly  |  March 25, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Tara…I’m so glad!! They are definitely a staple around here!

    Reply
  • 16. Wanda York  |  August 6, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    What effect does chia gel have in my morning coffee?

    Reply
  • 17. Where Can I Buy Chia Seeds?  |  June 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Holy crap, thanks so much for posting this! It is gonna help when I get Chia Seeds at the grocery store! So Astonishing!

    Reply

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