Monday, April 8, 2013

Jumping on the Chia Bandwagon

Remember these?

Very few dietary fads peak my interest. I usually sigh and roll my eyes at the latest health breakthrough that Dr. Oz is touting will reverse heart disease and mitigate obesity. However, one nutrition nugget keeps sticking in my head: chia seeds.

Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. Its origin is believed to be in Central America where the seed was a staple in the ancient Aztec diet. Chia seeds have recently gained attention as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also full of fiber with 10 grams per 2 tablespoons, and they contain protein and minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.

I started to consider chia seeds because I am really making an effott to limit my fish intake to seafood that I know is sustainabily harvested. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna have been the primary source of omega-3 fatty acids in my diet and so I want to make sure that I continue to consume adequate amounts.

So let’s say that I cave. What do I do with them? There are basically three options:

1. You can eat them whole, sprinkled on cereal, yogurt or a salad.
2. You can grind them up into a flour and use it to make cakes and breads.
3. You can soak it in water (1 cup water for 2 Tbsp chia) for 10-30 minutes until it becomes a viscous gel that you can add to liquid foods like smoothies or yogurt.

One tablespoon of dry seeds has about 68 calories and makes 9 Tbsp of chia gel, which can be stored  in a covered container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

Will I join the thousands who already ride the chia seed bandwagon? Maybe. I added them to the bottom of my grocery list so maybe this week I will feel adventurous and jump on board. 

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