07 February 2011

Chia seeds, not just for novelty terra cotta animal figurines

During my transition from vegetarian to vegan, someone recommended adding chia seeds to a smoothie. But as a child of the seventies I could not help but picture the terra cotta animal with green sprouting hair.

The edible seeds are from a Mexican desert plant that is part of the mint family. They are a more abundant source of omega 3’s than flax because they do not need to be ground before ingesting to reap the nutritional rewards.

According to Dr. Oz, “They have among the highest antioxidant activity of any whole food — even more than fresh blueberries.And they do good stuff for the body, like keeping blood pressure and blood sugar under control.”

Because chia new to me, I wanted to share the following info in its entirety. I have to admit, my curiosity is piqued and I was going to purchase some vegan omega 3’s anyway, but I found the chia seeds first. They were inexpensive and looked like poppy seeds. What I have read about them so far is compelling enough to make me want to live on them forever, or at least give them a try for a week or so.

Chia seed information from Christopher Westra, author of Harmony Earth 30 Day Energy Diet.

Here are ten benefits to using chia seed in your life. Chia seeds are:

1. Nutritious. Chia seed provides ample calcium and protein to your tissues. The seeds are also rich in boron, which helps the body assimilate and use calcium. The nutrients also support proper brain functioning.

2. Water loving. The seed can soak up ten times its weight in water. Do this fun experiment. Put one tablespoon of chia seed in a cup of water and stir. Wait a few hours and see what happens. When inside your body, the seeds help you stay hydrated longer, and retain electrolytes in your bodily fluids.

3. Easily digestible. The shells are easily broken down, even when swallowed whole. This is an improvement over flax seed, which have to be ground up to be digested properly. If you eat flax seed whole, it will just pass through.

4. Concentrated. If I could only take one cup of food for a few days, I’d choose chia! The food value per volume is simply astounding. You don’t need much.

5. Mild tasting. Unlike some seeds, the flavor is very mild. The mild taste makes it easy to put in sauces, smoothies, breads, puddings, and whatever you want. They won’t really change the taste, but will add to your nutrition!

6. Energy enhancing. The health pioneer Paul Bragg did an experiment an endurance hike with friends. They divided up into a chia-eating group and another group, who ate whatever they wanted. The group eating only chia seeds finished the hike four hours, twenty seven minutes before the others, most of whom didn’t even finish at all.

7. Versatile. The seeds can be used to replace less-healthy fat in just about any recipe. You can use them uncooked in salad dressings, spreads, fruit shakes, ice cream, and just about anything you want. You can also add them to cookies, cakes, muffins, and other baked goods. I usually just mix in a couple of teaspoons to my juice or water and drink them down!

8. Slimming and trimming. Yes, the seeds will help you lose weight, for two reasons. The first reason is that they are so filling that you will eat less of other foods. The second reason is that they actually bulk up and cleanse your body of old “junk” in your intestines.

9. Endurance enhancing. Chia seeds are known as the “Indian Running Food”. Also, the ancient Aztec warriors used chia seed during their conquests. I’m a runner, and I’ve used chia seed to enhance stamina and endurance on my mountain runs, some of which are several hours long!

10. Regenerating. After eating, the nutrients travel to the cells very quickly due to the ease in digestion and assimilation. Use them when you want to build or regenerate healthy body tissue.

Definitely worth a try. If you are already friends with chia seeds, please let us know what you think and how you enjoy them. In the meantime I will start adding them to my green smoothies and other edibles.

Have a delicious day.

*Additional Chia seed info from http://thechiaseed.com/

Sherry Duquet
Sherry is on a mission to inspire others to join in her journey to change the world, one meal at a time. As a long time vegetarian and vegan newbie, Sherry launched a compassionate living blog Exploits of a Vegan Wannabe where she welcomes meat-a-tarians, vegans and anyone interested in creating change with their choices and voices.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/graibeard