Chia seeds. No matter how hard I try to be unbiased, I can only ever think of one thing...
While these animal shaped planters may have led to the common-knowledge of chia during the 1990s, chia has a long history dating back to the Aztecs in Mexico. Grown for its seeds, chia is typically used for diabetes, high blood pressure, and a way to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
It wasn't until 2010 when I ran my first marathon that I found out that you could actually eat chia seeds. While walking around the expo at the Quad Cities Marathon, I came across a booth with chia pudding. The people were educating runners on the many health benefits of the food. Noticing that they were giving out free samples, like many other companies at marathon expos, I walked up a took a vanilla pudding. I looked at the glob for a moment. I shook it and held its shape and jiggled slightly. Hesitantly, I took a spoonful and ate it. The consistency was the first thing that I noticed. Boogers? Yea, it had the consistency of slimy boogers. The taste was not bad, but I had a very difficult time getting back the texture. So, with that I threw it away and walked on to the next booth.
As I have continued running, chia seed booths have continually appeared at race expos. Chia seeds seem to be the next big trend. So, I recently caved in about purchased a bag of seeds. Perhaps the health benefits are worth the slightly awkward texture that the seeds take on. I have been mixing about a tablespoon of chia seeds into my morning juices. It's really quite simple. Buy Naked or Bolthouse juices, I prefer the Green Machine, and mix the chia seeds into it. Be sure to let the seed sit about 5-10 minutes, I usually put the juice back in the refrigerator so it doesn't get warm. During that time, the seeds will plump up and take on a tapioca-like texture. I have found that this is a great quick breakfast on the go. This morning, I threw some juice and chia seeds into a mason jar and took it with my on my morning commute.
Here are a few other ideas for uses for chia seeds:
- Egg substitute
- Breakfast topper
- Soup thickener
- Jellies and jams
Even better, check out this Buzzfeed article for 31 healthy and delicious ways to cook with chia seeds.
What do you think? Do you like chia seeds? How do you cook with them?