One of my friends recently admitted that she bought some chia seeds but didn’t really know what to do with them. They were sitting patiently at the back of her kitchen cupboard, waiting for some loving. They seem to be the in-thing, they’re on everyone’s shopping list, but what do you do with these little guys and how good are they for your health?
Chia seeds look a bit like poppy seeds and when soaked look like tapioca seeds. They’re a member of the mint family and have been around forever, in fact they were once a staple of the Aztec diet. Chia seeds are a Superfood, which means they are packed to the brim with nutrients, including essential fatty acids, protein, fibre and minerals. Don’t believe me? Just two tablespoons of chia seeds contains over 4 times the amount of calcium as one glass of milk.
They also contain potent anti-oxidants, such as Quercetin, Flavonols and Caffeic acid, which have incredible immune boosting properties. Chia seeds will keep colds and flus at bay, reduce allergy symptoms, support healthy hormones, regulate your mood, boost your energy levels, reduce sugar cravings, aid fat burning, and support your gut and colon health.
Now for the fun part – understanding how to cook and enjoy them. The best way I can describe chia seeds is just plain old greedy, but in a good way – they’re very thirsty. They absorb a lot of liquid, expanding up to 16x their size in your belly, which can help you feel full; great news if you’re trying to kick that 3pm sugar craving or shed some weight.
6 Ways To Use Chia Seeds:
1. Peanut butter Chocolate Chia Pudding
A natural, healthy, gluten-free and diary-free Reece’s peanut butter cup – who knew you could make such a thing?! Don’t worry, this recipe is ‘Naturopathically approved’ by moi.
- 1 ½ cups of almond milk
- ½ cup chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon of cacao powder
- 1 teaspoon of stevia or honey
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla paste or vanilla essence
- ¼ cup of berries - blueberries, raspberries, blackberries (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder (optional)
- Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir well
- Divide into small glass jars or containers and store in the fridge for at least an hour, to allow the chia seeds to soak the liquid
- Garnish with extra berries and enjoy
You can put it in a small jar and take it with you as you run out the door in the morning for breakfast. If you’re entertaining guests you can impress - serve them in wine glass and sprinkle with cacao nibs.
2. Raspberry Jam
- 300g of frozen or fresh raspberries
- 2 tablespoons of stevia
- 4 tablespoons of chia seeds
- Mash raspberries with a fork for approximately 5 minutes
- Mix stevia and chia seeds with raspberries, until well combined
- Place raspberry mix in a glass jam jar and place in the fridge for an hour to allow it to thicken
Jam can be enjoyed on crusty toast / oat cakes or added to yoghurts, dressings and granola for a little extra zing
3. Smoothie Recipe
Checkout my article in Organic Lifestyle Magazine, ‘Are Superfoods Really that Super?', for my superfood chia smoothie recipe.
4. Sprinkle a tablespoon to your muesli, granola or porridge.
5. Thickening agent in soups, stews or gravy
Ladies, put down the cornflour or thickening agent! Instead add in a tablespoon of chia seeds and sit back, relax and let them do their thing. It can take up to 5 minutes for them to absorb the liquid and thicken your dish.
6. Substitute Eggs in Recipes.
Substitute 1 tablespoon of chia seeds (preferably finely ground) + 3 teaspoons of water per egg.
You can buy chia seeds from your local health store or online.
My final message - don’t be shy with them, add them to your cooking and diet any way you can! Try to have 1 tablespoon per day to reap the health benefits.
Olivia McFadyen, based in Mosman on Sydney's Lower North Shore, is a qualified Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist, Herbalist and Homoeopath. Whilst Olivia is a qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist, she is also a realist and understands the demands of modern day life, offering nutrition, herbal medicine and homoeopathic consultations and support without compromising on the enjoyment food can bring. She is passionate about supporting patients to reach their lifestyle goals, optimise their health & develop a healthy yet balanced way of life through naturopathy and homoeopathy. She services her clients by offering 4 and 12 week natural health programs from her clinic in Mosman on Sydney's Lower North Shore.