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I can't believe people bought these...
"Ch-ch-ch-chia!" I don't know if you have or haven't heard of this chia seed health fad that's sweeping the nation, but it's definitely arrived. As indicated by the post title and the quoted famous commercial jingle, chia seeds are indeed related to the pretty well known chia pets that were sold popularly in the 80s/90s (pictured to the left). The seeds grow into this carpet-esque grass that the Chia Pet company used to grow into animal shapes, all you had to do was water and trim your decorative "plant."

Anywho, now we're in the 21st century and health folk everywhere are touting the benefits of eating the tiny little seeds these Chia Pets were grown from. You can eat them whole or ground down, raw or sprouted, and in just about anything. They also turn sort of gelatinous when left in liquid...and hence recipes like this chia puddings or chia drinks were born, breeding healthy snacks everywhere!

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Whole and raw
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, research being done is suggesting that these little seeds can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. For being tiny little seeds, they're packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, protein, and some important minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium!

As you may remember my mentioning in a previous post, omega-3s are those healthy fatty acids that are most commonly found in fish. Apparently, if you were to equally weigh out a piece of salmon and some chia seeds, the chia seeds would have more omega-3s than the salmon! It's a great plant based source of omega-3s, which is good news for the vegetarians/vegans out in the world because they don't have to spend money on omega-3 supplements.

The amount of antioxidants in these seeds are also apparently the reason why they stay fresh for so long. They have a general shelf life of about 2 years at room temperature. Other seeds like flax seeds and sesame seeds don't last this long because they lack the abundance of antioxidants that naturally preserve chia seeds. The antioxidants also help your skin fight aging effects, so two thumbs up for that.

Chia seeds also happen to be great for adding to foods and baking. Why? Because they pretty much don't have their own flavor. How does that make sense? Since the chia seeds don't really have their own flavor, they tend to adopt the flavor of whatever you put them in, especially liquids. So when you put spoonfuls of these in a chocolate pudding, they not only gel and add to the pudding thickness and texture, they also adopt the chocolatey flavor that they've absorbed. Personally, I've used these little guys in my overnight refrigerator oats, some baked goods, and in what I'm presenting today: chia seed pudding! It makes for the perfect afternoon snack; it's healthy, tasty, and packed with goodness that's good for you.


Chia Seed Pudding

Makes 1 serving

Directions:
  1. Mix base ingredients together with one chosen flavor combo in a 1 C jar/container (I prefer mason jars).
  2. Cover and refrigerate until it reaches desired consistency. I recommend refrigerating at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight.
  3. Stir contents before eating/serving.

Base Ingredients:
  • 1/2 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/2-2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 packet stevia (or sweetener of choice


Flavor Combos

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup:
  • 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
  • 2 tbsp PB2 (i.e. peanut flour) mixed with 1 tbsp water (or 2 tbsp natural peanut/nut butter)
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Before refrigeration, pudding will look separated, and chia seeds will most likely sink.
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After refrigeration the chia seeds have absorbed liquid and gelled!
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A little close up on the pudding!



Vanilla Cinnamon:
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional: 1/2 scoop vanilla or cinnamon swirl protein powder


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Ingredients gathered for a banana chia seed pudding!
Banana:
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 small banana, mashed until smooth
  • Optional: 1/2 scoop banana or vanilla protein powder


Sources:
Photo: http://0.tqn.com/d/inventors/1/0/U/9/ramchia.jpg

Photo: http://christinacooks.com/Images/merchandise/azchia/chia-seeds.jpegW
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/04/eating-chia_n_1184208.html

http://www.mychiaseeds.com/Articles/Top10ChiaBenefits.html



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