Ch-ch-ch-chia!  »

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I made a list of 101 things to do in 1,001 days. So much can happen to send a year off track, but I figure 1,001 days — about three years — is plenty of time to get my ass in gear. One of my goals is to drink a chia fresca before bed each night every day for a month — if you don’t know about chia, read on to find out why I think that’s a good idea.

I am always a little skeptical when one food or another is proclaimed the next superfood, for a variety of reasons. “Superfoods” tend to be the ones that are more expensive and harder to find, which gives people the impression that superfoods are foods that normal people can’t enjoy regularly. Nobody gives plain red grapes much attention, for example, but like pomegranates they’re full of antioxidants. Also, it never takes long for the food industry to take a superfood and attempt to turn it into something hyper-manufactured — omega-3 fats are great for us, but maybe not in incapsulated form in orange juice? Plus, gross fish burps.

But that doesn’t mean that a food that gets “superfood” status doesn’t deserve it, and chia seeds are one example. Chia seeds are actually the same seeds you probably know best from spreading them on a tacky clay head in hopes of seeing a delightful afro of sprouts grow on it in a few weeks. Apparently we really weren’t using them to their full potential in the 1980s. 

Chia’s fancy name is salvia hispanica, and it comes from a flowering plant in the mint family that’s native to Mexico and Guatemala — it’s still used in those countries today. It’s thought to have been a staple food for the Aztecs, probably because the seeds are rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. A study from University of Toronto that was published in 2007 found that chia can decrease blood pressure and reduce inflammation, and other research has indicated that it may be helpful for diabetics.

So how do you add chia to your diet? You can sprinkle the seeds on salads, or sprout them and use them like alfalfa sprouts. Chia gets somewhat gelatinous when added to liquids, so it works well as a thickener — Oh She Glows has tons of delicious-looking recipes that use chia, like oatmeal, pumpkin parfait, and almond butter. Or you could try it like I intend to, as chia fresca — it’s a much better energy drink than the crap you can get at 7-Eleven. 

How do you like to use chia seeds or powder? Laura loves making gravy!


[photo by sweetbeatandgreenbean via Flickr]

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