Chia seeds come from a desert plant called Salvia hispanica – a member of the mint family grown in southern Mexico – and is a powerhouse of nutrients. High in both soluble and insoluble fiber, it helps to keep us fuller longer because when soaked in water (like in the stomach) it forms a gel, according to Julie T. Chen MD, board-certified in internal medicine and integrative medicine, in an article on Tooyourhealth.com.
The seeds contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, niacin, and actually offer more omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds. “Many of these nutrients and minerals are essential for our hormonal functioning, muscle recovery, and even our energy level and blood pressure and cholesterol processing. So, by simply incorporating a spoonful of this into your daily diet, you are in essence taking a spoonful of a variation of Mother Nature’s multivitamin,” Chen said in the article.
With their nutty flavor, they can be used in a similar way as flaxseed – sprinkled on cereal, oatmeal or fruit; added to a smoothie and more. They can also be used for baking and in other dishes.
Here is a great recipe for Peach and Blueberry Protein Smoothie from “Gluten-free Vegan Comfort Food,” by Susan O’Brien:
Peach and Blueberry Protein Smoothie
Note: Either fresh or frozen fruit can be used, and the author suggests “Life’s Basics Plant Protein by Lifetime” for protein powder.
1 scoop protein powder
2 cups milk substitute (soy, coconut or almond)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon flaxseeds
4 cups organic blueberries
½ cup organic peaches
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Mint leaves for garnish
Directions: Using a bender, combine the ingredients, mix and serve. Top with a spring of fresh mint if desired.