By Cat Wilson
Closely related to the chia plant made popular by chia pets (how could we forget?), but not the same seed, the tiny seeds we speak of are packed with a punch of nutrition including:
- Fiber, which improves heart health, reduces cholesterol and promotes intestinal health.
- Omega 3 fatty acids, important for both body and heart. Harder to obtain than Omega 6.
- High quality protein.
- Improvement of digestive health.
- All nine essential amino acids.
One serving is about 2.5 tablespoons and contains:
- 140 calories.
- 5 grams of protein.
- 10 grams of fiber. Remember, your goal is 25-38 grams a day.
- 12 grams of carbohydrates.
- 9 grams of fat, of which 8 grams are heart healthy Omega 3 fats.
Chia seeds are very small, but will expand into a soft gel when mixed with any liquid. Typically, they are used to make chia pudding; added to oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt and baked goods; or soaked to soften and use as a thickener. Just don’t eat them off a spoon unless you follow with plenty of water to chase them down — in fact, just don’t eat them off the spoon, but do consider incorporating them into your eating plan.
Quick And Easy Chia Berry Compote
2 cups of berries (I use blueberries) fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons chia seeds
Cook berries in small pan over medium low heat, mashing them as they heat up. Frozen takes about 5 minutes. Add chia seeds and simmer until thickened. Eat warm on their own or over pancakes. Refrigerate and eat like a dessert.
Overnight Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
1½ cups almond milk
⅓ cup chia seeds
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Add all ingredients except chia seeds to a mixing bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. Mix in chia seeds until well combined. Let rest covered in the refrigerator overnight. The pudding can be stored covered in the refrigerator for two to three days. Serve chilled with desired toppings, such as fruit or a dollop of whipped topping.
Carrot Cake Overnight Oats
This oatmeal is loaded with calcium, protein, fiber and vitamin A. The amount of carrot in this recipe provides 100% of your vitamin A for the day, which is good for your eyes and immune system.
½ cup rolled oats
⅔ cup skim milk
⅓ cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
¼ cup finely grated carrot
1½ teaspoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pecans, chopped
1 tablespoon shredded coconut, unsweetened
Mix all ingredients, except for the pecans and coconut, in a bowl or Mason jar. Top with pecans and coconuts, and cover with lid. Refrigerate overnight and eat chilled.
Cat Wilson lives in South Bend and transitioned from a vegetarian diet to eating a plant-based diet more than two years ago. She may be contacted at [email protected].