Chia seed was the first product we sold at the RealFoodSource and we starting eating it a long time before all the current craze! There is a lot of hype about chia seeds (with a lot of it exaggerated claims!) It does have a great little nutritional profile and is a very versatile little seed, for example, it makes a great little egg replacement in baking.
Chia Seeds - The Benefits
Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. Chia is grown commercially for its seed, a food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds also contains fibre, protein, antioxidants, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron.
Chia has unique hydrating and endurance properties; the hydrophilic seeds can absorb up to ten times their weight in water, and that gelling factor physically slows down the process by which our bodies convert soaked chia seeds carbs into simple sugars.
Chia seeds are typically small ovals with a diameter of about 1 mm and are either light or dark in colour. The nutritional composition is largely the same so their choice of use often comes down to aesthetics within a recipe. Chia are very neutral in flavour with a subtle nuttiness and can be used whole or ground depending on preferred texture. They do not need to be ground to take advantage of their full nutritional benefits.
A few reasons to consume chia:
- Chia seeds are gluten free
- The seeds are high in dietary fibre to assist with digestive issues
- They contain 20% Omega 3 ALA, with a good Omega 3 to 6 ration when compared with other nuts and seeds.
- The are a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids
- They are high in calcium
- They are high in antioxidants
- The seeds are hydrophilic and this unique property allows them to absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, assisting metabolism.
Chia seeds are claimed to help with everything from stress relief to making you feel fuller longer, a good book for research is "Chia" by Ricardo Ayerza and Wayne Coates.
Chia seeds - Our Range
In our range you will find both organic and non organic chia seeds from 500g to 4kg quantities. If you are adding chia to your diet every day you will quickly get through a 500g bag so do buy in bigger quantities if you can. Chia also has a long shelf like and stores well.
How To Add To Your Diet
Chia seeds are very versatile, here are our favourite ways to eat them:
1. Simply blend them into smoothies as we do here
2. Sprinkle onto cereal, they make a great addition to porridge
3. Add to liquid to make a ‘chia pudding’ as we do with this summer cooler recipe
4. Add a little water to form a gel as an egg replacement when baking
5. Add a small amount to your home made baking, they work great in breads (like you would poppy seeds)
6. Add them to traybake mixes as we do here for these delicious flapjacks
7. Make your own chia jam - check out our recipe section or see our recipe here
8. Sprinkle over puddings as with this summer pudding
9. Make your own energy bars as we do here
10. Check out recipe section for lots more inspiration
Here is a recipe for a simple chia pudding to get you going!
Chocolate berry chia pudding:
1 1/4 cup ‘milk’ of choice plus extra as needed to thin out
1/4 cup chia seeds*
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
Handful of raspberries or other red berries
Flaked almonds to serve- optional
* Note: you can use whole or ground chia seeds depending on preferred smoothness of texture, you are likely to find you need a little extra liquid if using ground seeds.
In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients (other than berries) until a smooth batter is achieved.
Place the bowl in fridge for 1-2 hours or overnight until thick.
Stir well, add more milk if necessary to achieve the thickness you desire, and stir through the berries adding a few for garnish a and serve chilled.
Alternatively you can heat in the microwave and serve it warm.
We are passionate about chia seeds and have sought to provide you with a general overview of chia and some recipes to get you inspired! This information is based on our own experiences and research but we’d always encourage furthering your own understanding.