I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked about using chia seeds, and the response I get is, “Chia???? You mean as in the chia pet, chia???” Yes, my friends, it is one and the same, although it’s uses are quite different than just growing Homer Simpson hair.
If you read my previous post, you know that I am starting a new series,(what works…what doesn’t) covering what has and hasn’t worked for our family in changing our diet/lifestyle, starting with chia.
So why chia? Well, to start with, chia seeds are a rich source of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid, and both soluble and insoluble fiber. They also provide calcium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc; and the B vitamins niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine. That’s a mouthful, huh? These are all highly important to our over-all diet and well-being, but just to highlight one: Omega -3 fatty acids are important, because they help lower triglycerides and increase HDL cholesterol (the good stuff). Omega 3 fatty acids may also act as an anticoagulant to prevent blood from clotting. Several other studies also suggest that these fatty acids may help lower high blood pressure. They have also been shown to protect against the accumulation in the body of a protein believed to be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. If you want a great, informative article on the uses and benefits of chia seeds, you can read that here.
How do you use them? No, you don’t sprout them into “hair” and then clip it and eat it. 🙂 There are multiple uses and ways to sneak them into your diet. My favorite is to add about one teaspoon to 16-24oz of water, give it a good swirl/stir, and drink. The seeds take on the consistency of say, a tomato seed, and it kind-of tricks your brain into thinking you’re having a snack rather than just a drink, b/c it gives you a little something to chew on. Or, I like to add about a tablespoon or so into our smoothies. You’ll never even know they’re there.
You can also make them into a pudding, in one of two ways: 1) mix about 3/4c of chia with 2c liquid of your choice (water, milk, almond milk, etc), stir in vanilla and sweetener of choice to taste,(stir well) let chill. 2) blend 2 1/2 c milk with 1/2 c chia, 6T carob or cocoa powder, sweetener, extract to taste, and mix it in your blender until smooth. Chill. (Chill the chia, that is. Not “chill,” as in “chill out.” ;))
Chia seeds can be used as an egg substitute by grinding 2 t of seeds until they are a fine powder. Mix with 1/4c of water and let sit until thickened (this doesn’t take long, maybe a minute). This is equal to one large egg.
So what did and didn’t work for us? Well, first of all, I’ve been using chia for almost a year. About a week ago, one of my children decided that they liked the whole chia-seeds-in-my-water concept and now they have a glass on a daily basis. My husband and other child haven’t gone for it yet – they just think it’s weird. 😉
Both of my children, however, don’t mind them mixed into smoothies, b/c like I said, you can’t even tell they’re in there, aside from a little seed here and there, much like blackberry seeds in a drink.
So far, I’m the only one that eats the chia pudding, but that’s largely b/c I made it with carob – which I did on purpose – no one else in my family likes carob, so, more for me. 🙂
I tried using them as an egg substitute, and that did not go over well at all. This was what lead me to think I may as well give up. You know, the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak? I had been struggling with feeling like everything was a constant battle – it felt like every time I made something, before anyone would even take a bite, they’d look at me questioningly and say “what did you put in here????”, or “did you put kefir in it????” Or, it was the constant pesting/nagging for pop and sugar, chips, junk food, dessert, etc., and constantly feeling like a jerk for saying no. So. I had made a dessert and used the chia in place of eggs. I thought it tasted just fine – good, even – although I will admit that the consistency is different when doing so. It makes the product more dry and crumbly. (just as a side note, I was using the substitute, b/c good quality eggs are expensive, I was running low, and didn’t want to use them all up on a dessert) When dessert was shared, I got the aforementioned response, the crinkled up nose, the “these aren’t as good as you used to make them.” At that moment, it just frustrated me to no end. I was tired of the battles. Tired of fighting. Tired of working really hard only to be meant with resentment. I decided I was going to keep on doing what I was doing for me, and everyone else could eat as they like.
But then, this miraculous thing happened. For as much as people were complaining and crinkling up their noses, they were noticing a difference. They didn’t want as much ice cream when they got it. Pop was suddenly sickeningly sweet. Processed, white flour foods didn’t taste as good anymore. It just takes time. Baby steps. Slow and steady. Amazingly, they didn’t want me to stop making healthy changes. So we reached an agreement – I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, and still through in a treat every so often, just so they don’t feel quite so “deprived.” Although, I’m guessing that in time, that feeling of depravity will begin to fade.
Stay tuned for my next post in what works…what doesn’t – it will be on Kombucha. Yum. 🙂
Closing with a picture I love: I took this one this past weekend. My family and I had gone for a hike, up the valley from our home, and I just loved how this looked. Beauty and simplicity at it’s finest.
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