If your only exposure to chia seeds is spreading them onto a Chia Pet™, you’re not alone. The earliest export of chia seeds in the United States was for use in growing decorative houseplants, but these little seeds, originally from Central and South America, are also a rich source of nutrients, as a growing number of people in the U.S. are beginning to learn.
What Are Chia Seeds?
The little mottled seeds are from the Salvia hispanica plant, a flowering member of the mint family. The seeds themselves have long been a food staple in Mexico and along portions of the southwestern U.S. border.
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
These little miracle seeds can be eaten raw, but are generally consumed by adding them to recipes, such as smoothies, puddings, oatmeal, or muffins. Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health, supple joints, and good brain function, among other things. In addition, chia seeds are a good source of dietary fiber, protein, calcium, phosphorus, and manganese. When you add water to chia seeds, they form a gel-like substance. It’s quite miraculous! In fact, this enables chia to be used as a gelatin or egg substitute in certain recipes.
Here are a few recipes to help you get to know this healthy little treat:
Chia Wheat Pancakes
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Maple Syrup to top
- Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat.
- Beat together egg, milk, and oil.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder. and salt. Slowly stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Add honey and stir until combined. Stir in chia seeds.
- Pour batter into the pan using a 1/4 cup scoop and cook until golden brown. Flip and cook until centers are completely done. Top with maple syrup.
- 2 cups vanilla almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened)
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey, or more to taste
- fruits, nuts, or any other ingredients of your choice
- Add ingredients to a food processor or blender and mix well.
- Pour into serving dishes and place covered in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, or until set, mixing once midway through so the seeds don’t settle to the bottom.
- Keep refrigerated. Pudding will last 3-4 days.
Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including MTV.com. She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.