Chia seeds have been used for thousands of years - it was once a staple food source among the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans, who used it to increase strength and maintain stamina during long journeys.
Chia is similar in nutrition to another better known superfood: flaxseed. Both are revered as exceptional plant-based sources of important omega 3 fatty acids, which - aside from balancing the ratio of EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) within our naturally high omega 6 diet - also support increased mental function, lowered inflammation, cardiovascular health, and immune system support. One distinct advantage that chia has over flax is an abundance of antioxidants that are not only beneficial, but also help all its healthy fats from oxidizing. Beyond being a source of easily digestible protein, chia contains a wealth of important minerals, especially calcium and iron. Chia seeds are also a tremendous source of fiber: Just one tbsp. provides over a quarter of our daily requirements for fiber. Chia's high fiber content contains a high amount of mucilage, which means the chi absorbs water very easily and will actually "plump up" when combined with liquid, form in a kind of "gel" layer around each seed. A chia can absorb about nine times its weight in water, which means that once it is digested, it expands in the stomach and creates a sensation of fullness. It's no wonder that many people consider chia an exceptional food for dieting and weight loss.
Chia has a very neutral taste, making it very easy to add it to various recipes. Think of chia as more of a textural component: used as a slightly crunchy toggling, or as a binding agent or thickener when soaked and allowed to gel.
Black or white whole chia seeds are excellent (both have essentially the same nutritional properties; black chia seeds are usually less expensive). Also available is sprouted chia seed powder, which takes advantage of the nutritional boost that happens whenever a seed sprouts. In this form, the chia seeds are gently re-dried after having sprouted, then milled into a fine powder. The result serves as an undetectable nutritious addition to flours, or can be hydrated with water to act as a binder/healthy egg substitute in baking.
Use in: Breakfasts, drinks and smoothies, sides, snacks, soups, salads and dressings, entrees, sweets and desserts. Ground chia is especially useful in baking.
Be sure to try our Gluten Free Chia Oatmeal Cookies. They are absolutely delicious!!
Source: Superfood Kitchen - Julie Morris