If you grew up in the 90s chances are you or a friend of yours had a chia pet – you know, those terracotta figurines that grew sprouts on their bodies (with your special tending) to represent “hair/fur.”
Check out the commercial below if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about or if you just want to hear the ch-ch-ch-chia song (because you are feeling nostalgic or weird or both).
Well this post isn’t really so much about chia pets, but I wanted to give the proper shout out to when I was first introduced to chia back when I was a kid. Chia pets were apparently a big deal to me as I recall receiving many as gifts, even one when I went away to college – my friend Beth gave me one in the shape of a professor’s head. The natural choice for a going away present, right? Love it.
Fast forward 10 years later, and my relationship to chia seeds has changed a lot. Nowadays, I use chia seeds as a health supplement. I put them in my baked goods, smoothies, and lately I’ve been enjoying Chia Fresca, a lemony drink. I like it as a quick way to get the benefits of chia in my diet and to also get a boost of energy. It’s a win-win and a nice change-up from wintry foods and drinks.
My standard recipe includes:
- 2 cups of lemon/fruit/veggie water (regular mason jar with a cap so you can shake it up)
- juice of a whole lime/lemon/grapefruit
- 1.5 TBSPs of chia seeds (to soak in water for at least 10 minutes)
- 5 drops of Sweet Leaf (liquid stevia)’s Sweet Drops Sweetener in the Lemon Drop flavor
Fun facts about chia:
- Chia seeds are hydrophilic, meaning they love water/liquids and can absorb up to 12 times their body weight in water.
- Records indicate chia seeds were used as a food source as far back as 3500 B.C.
- They come from the plant Salvia hispanica from Central and South America.
- Aztecs used it for joint pain and sore skin.
- At one point Mayans used it as a currency.
- Can be used as an egg substitute: Add 2 TBSP water to 1 TBSP chia seeds to form a gel.
- They are gluten and grain-free!
- Chia seeds are 30% fat and have more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant food, including flax seeds.
- They are made of about 20% protein – that is more protein dense than tofu, whey protein, or eggs.
- They are also high in fiber and calcium – 100 grams of chia seeds provide over 60% of your daily calcium requirement.
- They are high in antioxidants.
Brand of chia I use: My favorite brand of chia seeds are Spectrum Chia Seeds, although to be quite frank, those are the only kind of chia seeds I have tried. So you chia veterans out there speak up and share your favorites! Some people do not believe that all chia seeds are made the same, so be sure you talk to someone you trust about the quality of the seeds you buy. Make it work for you.
How to use chia:
Chia can be put into almost anything so be creative and try some of your favorite recipes with the seeds. For best results, use them in gel or liquid form as they are more easily absorbed in the body that way. However, you can still use them as dry ingredients (like granola bars) and still reap benefits.
WARNING: To be technical, the chia seeds used in the chia pet are not the same as the chia seeds alternative health people RAVE about. They are in the same plant family but that’s it. I repeat, do not go into your closet, dig up your unopened chia pet and try to eat the seeds 😉 If you want to check them out, go to a health foods store or coop or maybe even your local grocer. Call ahead to see if they have any in stock. I guarantee you will be much happier with your results 🙂