Diet > Ch-ch-ch-Chia!

Ever since chia introduced itself to my mostly daily routine, I've had countless freaked-out stares at my water bottle. Why? Because it looks like fish eggs are floating in it. Yeah. And sometimes, I'll kick it up a notch with a few sprigs of parsley or mint, and then it just looks like I dipped my water bottle in a swamp.

Why chia? I began to understand chia when I did my first (and so far, only) official trail run (called The Dirty Bird: https://www.pretzelcitysports.com/dirtybird.html) two autumns ago. I was nervous, it was a nine mile run, and it was my first time putting chia in my water. Let me tell you - the energy never stopped for me for the entire run. It was my own energy, to be sure! But chia seeds effectively work as slow-release water capsules in your stomach, amongst many other things, and this worked to keep me evenly hydrated the entire run. I never flagged! Not once.

Here are some reasons why I love chia, and why you should try it!

* A tablespoon of these gluten/grain-free seeds has more calcium than a glass of milk (which, iif you ask me, should be raw milk if you're a milk drinker - http://www.realmilk.com/health/raw-milk-vs-pasteurized-milk/), more Omega-3s than Salmon, and more antioxidants than blueberries.

* Because they can absorb many times their size/weight in liquid (whatever liquid you stir them into), they are great for preventing dehydration during exercise or exposure to heat...HOT YOGA!

* Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language, and they were known as the “Indian Running Food” because runners and warriors would use them for sustenance while running long distances or during battle.

* They contain essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid, mucin, strontium, 30% protein, Vitamins A, B, E, and D, and minerals including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, iron, iodine, copper, zinc, sodium, magnesium, manganese, niacin, thiamine, silicon, and anti-oxidants.

This is a blip from Wellness Mama's blog about chia:

"They are currently being used for their nutritional and medicinal properties, endurance for athletes, for suppressing the appetite, weight loss, leveling blood sugar, and for aiding intestinal regularity. Chia seeds readily dissolve into the water, creating a substance that looks like gelatin. This gel-forming action is due to the soluble fiber in the Chia seed. Researchers believe that this same gel-forming phenomenon takes place in the stomach when Chia seed is consumed, thus creating a physical barrier between carbohydrates and digestive enzymes and slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. Slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar helps with endurance and metabolic rates, which is beneficial for athletes and others.

For weight loss, Chia seeds are an appetite suppressant, and Chia gel may be used to replace food within recipes. Bulking up a meal with Chia gel helps lessen the amount of food consumed, since Chia gel is primarily made up of water. Chia gel may also be used in place of fats within recipes, even within baked goods. Chia seed has hydrophilic properties, and can absorb more than 12 times its weigh in water. Because of this, Chia seeds can prolong hydration, helping retain moisture and regulate more efficiently the body’s absorption of nutrients and body fluids, including electrolyte balance.”

Stir some organic chia seeds into your water and drink throughout the day or before/during a hot yoga class for added hydration and many more benefits!

October 31, 2014 | Registered CommenterGrace

One tip from personal experience: don't blend chia seeds. Add them to your smoothie after blending and stir. I think when they are ground up, they lose their ability to be slow release capsules in your stomach, and they also may cause gastric agitation.

October 31, 2014 | Registered CommenterGrace

Omigosh Grace there is such an easy answer to Chia: chew! Forget about putting them in water or smoothies or any liquid, just put a tablespoonful in your mouth and chew.

This is what I do. I love the nutty flavor and prefer it to letting the seed gel when they hit liquid. Occasionally I sprinkle them atop yogurt and eat immediately so they dont gel. But I agree: in my green drink or my water they turn alien.

Chewing them - yes they can stick in your teeth,....but once they gel up, they can be popped right out!

November 1, 2014 | Registered CommenterRhonda Uretzky, E-RYT

What a great education on Chia!! Grace, thank you so much for your insight (and Rhonda too, about chewing!). I had no idea about the benefits of Chia. I just always think about the CHI CHI CHI CHIA PET Commercial (that weird looking plant that can be in the shape of scooby doo). I am going online right now to order some organic chia seeds! Wish me luck!

March 13, 2017 | Registered CommenterDani

Hey Dani - if you havent already ordered I have a package of CHIA seeds in my fridge - I sort of lost my taste for these chewy little suckers - they're all yours for the asking (Ask and it is Given!)

March 14, 2017 | Registered CommenterRhonda Uretzky, E-RYT

I also appreciate Chia seeds for the beautiful list of reasons that Grace gave above. I frequently use soaked Chia seed instead of eggs in recipes I make dairy free. I have made a delicious Chia pudding that I shared with co-workers (MOST really enjoyed it ).
I'm including here my 2 favorite Hydrating smoothies. I add Chia to these. As Grace stated above you can add them at the end on just a stir setting of your blender.
These recipes are from a great little book, "The Blender Girl Smoothies". She a smoothie genius! Serve 2.

POTASSIUM PLUS
1 1/2 c (360g) coconut water or water
2 medium apricots, pitted and chopped
1 medium banana, fresh or frozen
1 T creamed coconut
2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 c (240g) frozen peaches
1 T Chia seeds
Optional; 1/4 c (30g) frozen raw broccoli florets, 1/2 c (15g) loosely packed chard leaves

HAPPY HYDRATION
3 1/2/ c (560g) chopped seedless watermelon
2 c (320g) frozen raspberries
1/4 c (7g) loosely packed basil
1 T Chia seeds
Optional Boosters: 1 t pomegranate powder, 1/4 c (30g) frozen raw cauliflower florets

These are both really delicious and a great energy boost and hydration for after Hot Yoga:)

March 26, 2018 | Registered CommenterJeanne

I used to love the way these little seeds would expand when chewed raw...or placed in liquid...like a magic trick! Instant expansion lol! And so tasty too...

April 2, 2018 | Registered CommenterRhonda Uretzky, E-RYT