The chia seed is a rather recent phenomenon here in the UK, but over in the states they have long since been on the menu for those keen to live a healthy lifestyle. So, what are they? And what can we do with them? Originating from Mexico and South America, they are being hailed as the ‘ultimate superfood’, which means if you’re not already eating them, you might want to change that very soon! Here’s a very quick guide, along with three little ways to use chia seeds.
What makes chia seeds a super food?
These tiny little seeds, derived from the mint family, are so super packed with nutrients that they are literally second to none in terms of nutritional value. They have more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon; they contain plenty of antioxidants and minerals; they’re a complete source of protein and they have more fibre than flax seeds. In just 100g of Chia seeds you can expect 20.7g protein, 32.8g fat, 41.8g carbohydrate, 714mg calcium, 16.4mg iron, 613mg Niacin (B3), 0.18mg Thiamine (B1) and 0.04mg Riboflavin (B2).
What this means is, when you add Chia seeds to your daily diet, you are helping your body to reduce inflammation, improve heart health and stabilise blood sugar levels. If you lead an active lifestyle, eating Chia seeds in addition means that you are helping your body to build muscle, lower cholesterol, and further reduce your risk of heart disease.
Now we’re not saying it’s a miracle food… but it does seem to come close!
How to use them
There are many ways that you can use Chia seeds. Some serious athletes have been known to keep them in a canister and down them straight, washed down with water to help them with endurance during races. Some like to add them to smoothies, porridge or salads. There really is no right or wrong way to use them, but it’s worth knowing what happens to them when they’re added to other foods.
When added to liquid, Chia seeds can treble in size. So if you eat them straight, they will expand in your tummy. Bear this in mind! When mixed into soups and smoothies etc, they will thicken your liquid and they can also be used in place of eggs in some recipes. You can even use them to thicken jams!
How we like to use them
So now that we know how wonderful Chia seeds are nutritionally, we’re going to let you into a secret. You can use them to make sin free puddings! Yes, really. Here are our top three Chia seed dishes, starting with a pudding. Enjoy!
Chocolate Chia mousse
Who doesn’t love a chocolate mousse? If you’re following a healthy lifestyle but want something sweet, then this is the dish for you. It’s so simple to make and trust us- it’s delicious! All you need is:
- 1 can coconut cream
- 32g Chia seeds
- 85g maple syrup
- 64g cocoa powder
Pour all the ingredients into a blender and blend until it resembles tapioca pudding. Pour into dishes and allow to set for at least 4 hours. Enjoy!
Chilli Chia jam
This one is such a wonderful treat to serve either with crackers, or vegetable sticks of course. A great one for the Christmas buffet table- and they’ll never know they’re eating such a healthy dip! All you need is:
- 4oz red chilli peppers
- 11.5oz red, yellow, and orange bell peppers
- 4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 3.5 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- pinch of sea or Himalayan salt
- 1½ tablespoon chia seeds
To make the jam, you need to first remove the stalks and tops of the peppers. Take out the seeds and membranes (keep the chilli seeds in if you want an extra hot jam) and roughly chop them. Pop the chilli peppers into a blender and blitz until the consistency is fine, then add the bell peppers and repeat. Transfer the whole mixture into a saucepan and add the vinegar, maple syrup and coriander. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer like that for 15-20 minutes, stirring every now and then. Add a pinch of salt and remove from the heat.
Next, stir in the Chia seeds and transfer the whole lot into a jar. Pop in the fridge and allow to set. When cool… enjoy!
Overnight oats with Chia seeds
We love overnight oats! They’re so easy to make and so wonderfully nutritious, if you put the right ingredients in. This recipe will make creamy oats perfect for breakfast on the go! All you need is:
- 28g rolled oats
- Half a cup of coconut milk
- tablespoons greek yogurt
- Half a banana, chopped
- Half a tablespoon Chia seeds
- Two teaspoons cocoa powder
- Two tablespoons almond nut butter
Simply mix all ingredients together in an airtight container, and leave overnight in the fridge. Perfect!