Yes, I know what you’re thinking, chia seeds … Aren’t those the same seeds that come in a kit with ceramic animal and celebrity heads? Indeed, they are. In addition to being quite easily the simplest seed to propagate, chia seeds are an excellent source of nutrition.

What are chia seeds?

The chia seed originates from the Mexican desert plant, Salvia Hispanica. “Chia” meaning “strength” in the Mayan language, was consumed by Aztec and Mayan warriors for energy and endurance. The Aztecs felt so strongly about the seed’s benefits that in addition to gold, they used the seed as currency.

What are the health benefits of eating chia seeds?

Chia seeds are jam-packed with essential nutrients, omega-3’s, antioxidants, minerals, protein and fiber (it’s no wonder the Aztecs considered it gold). Chia’s anti-inflammatory properties and it’s ability to hold up to ten times its weight in water make the seed an ideal food for athletes. When exposed to liquid, chia seeds create a gelatin, allowing the body to stay hydrated for longer. The seed also contains large amounts of calcium, manganese, phosphorus and potassium — minerals important to muscle function and bone health.

Chia has also been shown to lower blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, improve heart health and even combat diabetes. Jennifer Ross, a licensed dietician of six years at Preferred Nutrition in Jacksonville Beach, says she recommends chia seeds because of the numerous health benefits. “They’re whole grain, so they provide good healthy fats, fiber and protein,” Ross said. “They help you feel fuller, longer.”

The seeds are tiny and virtually tasteless, so they’re easy to add to your diet. Another plus: Chia seeds, unlike flax seeds, can be absorbed into the body without processing them. Ross suggests sprinkling two tablespoons of chia seeds on rice and vegetables or adding them into your muffin and smoothie recipes.


Chia recipes:

Super Blue Chia Smoothie

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 banana

1/2 cup blueberries

1 cup ice

1 cup almond milk

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

* In a blender combine chia seeds, banana, blueberries, ice, almond milk and yogurt. Serve immediately.


Chocolate Raspberry Chia Pudding

1/4 cup chia seeds

1 cup sweetened almond milk

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup raspberries

In a small bowl, combine chia seeds, almond milk and cocoa powder.

Stir the mixture well, making sure there are no lumps.

Cover the mixture and let it refrigerate overnight.

Add raspberries and enjoy!


Banana Chia Pancakes

(Makes 8 servings)

2 bananas, sliced

3 tablespoons chia

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/4 cups milk

1 egg

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Steps:

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Sift well. Add the milk, egg and melted butter. Stir the mixture until it forms a batter. Fold in the chia seeds.

2. Heat a large griddle over medium high heat.

3. Pour batter onto the griddle. When the batter begins to bubble, add the banana slices and flip the pancake.