If you grew up in the 80s, you probably saw hundreds of ads for the Chia Pet. Truly, it’s an amazing and ridiculous entry in the history books of mankind. Fast forward 30 years and humanity is now rediscovering the glory of this tiny, gelatinous seed. When soaked in water, chia seeds pretty quickly start to produce a jelly-blob-like form. That’s what makes them stick so easily to the side of, for instance, a terracotta head in the shape of Elmer Fudd. It’s also one of the reasons chia seeds are so good for you. Essentially, the smooth added bulk of hundreds of tiny jelly blobs is very good for your digestive tract. It’s right up there with psyllium husk products and irish moss. I prefer chia seeds because not only is my colon thankful, but they’re also highly nutritious. They have a very neutral flavor. They don’t turn your hair green. You can add them to just about anything, including a bottle of water.
Now, by no means do I mean to imply people are just now discovering that you can eat chia seeds. A common sentiment (and by common sentiment I mean grossly over exaggerated generalization) in the alternative health community these days is “What’s good enough for the Aztecs is good enough for me.” I’m right on board with that. Not so much in the sacrificing-virgins kind of way, but definitely in the eating-chia-seeds-for-strength-and-endurance kind of way. As the story goes, Aztec warriors would carry a pouch of chia seeds on their belts for those long days of hunting. Tired from running 20 miles and just can’t lift that spear to defend your life one last time? No worries; just scoop a handful of chia seeds into your mouth and you’re good to go. Chia seeds are a great source of protein, essential fatty acids (ALA), and fiber. The also contain a good dose of essential minerals. Overall, an excellent choice for the hunter, gatherer, or desk jockey.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite uses for chia seeds:
Chia Seeds on a Salad
Yep, just sprinkle them on top. They’re crunchy, they make a salad look cool, and they’re good for you! The only thing to watch out for is that they sometimes end up in your teeth like a poppy seed. So, swish some water around in your mouth when your done eating or embrace it and smile wide!
Chia Seeds in a Smoothie
Sometimes smoothies are too thin. Sometimes the ingredients separate (especially true when you’re mixing fruits and vegetables with ice!). You can experiment with oats or other grains to help thicken up your smoothies. You can also use chia seeds! Their awesome jelly blob format makes for an excellent thickening agent. It doesn’t change the flavor, and you get all the amazing benefits of the seed. Watch out you don’t add too many; even after you blend it all up, your beverage will continue to thicken for a few minutes. Too many seeds will turn your fruit smoothie into a fruit jello!
Chia Seeds in a Water Bottle
This is probably my favorite use of the tiny wonder. Just scoop or pour a tablespoon or so of chia seeds into your bottle. (More or less is totally fine. Just be aware that if you add too many, your water might turn into a pudding!) Shake it up, and then shake it again in a few minutes after the jelly blobs are in full swing. This is a really easy way to get awesome nutrition in a very easy to prepare format. This is a lot easier if your water bottle has a large opening. My favorite water bottles are glass and have a relatively wide opening at the top. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check this out. I always keep a 1 lb bag of chia seeds at my office and at home. It’s SO easy to prep this fun and healthy beverage in the middle of a very busy schedule. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’ll have to take my word for it: tiny gelatinous thingies in your water is… well, it’s rad.
Get on board the chia train!