Of Chia Pets and Chia Seeds

chia petI can’t remember where or how I came across my first Chia Pet.  I think was some time in the late 70s.  What I do remember is how amazed I was that people would actually buy one of those things!   I probably should not have been, since I was around for the whole pet rock thing.  Chia was promptly relegated as a tagline to several lame jokes.

chia flowers and seedsA few years ago we took a trip to Chiapas, Mexico. As we drove around we kept seeing these beautiful blue flowers.  Some were wild and some were cultivated in fields.  My curiosity got the best of me and I asked a friend  what they were called.

He told me that it was Chia; a member of the mint family. That the plant is indigenous to the state of Chiapas and a cash crop.  That plants are grown for the seeds and that the seeds are used to eat and press for oil.  And BTW they are is very healthy and full of minerals. And if that wasn’t enough, you could eat the sprouts as a substitute for alfalfa sprouts.

As we drove back to town I got the whole “try it you’ll like it” speech.  In town he pulled up to a small shop and stopped. He went in and brought out a glass of popular local drink: chia fresca (fruit juice with a bunch of chia seeds thrown in). He insisted I try it.  My reaction?  It was OK. Nothing to write home about, but drinkable.

A couple of years later while getting a pedicure I saw a magazine with a banner about the latest amazing weight loss miracle. . . Since I am always up for an easier, softer way to drop a couple of pounds I picked up the magazine, found the article and began to read.  Within seconds I was hooting with laughter.

The miracle?  Chia seed!

Once I quit laughing I started reading in earnest.  It turns out that eating chia seeds has a lot of benefits including:

  1. Weight loss — the seeds block calorie absorption and since they absorb 10 x their weight in water you feel fuller, faster
  2. Regulating blood sugar – slows down the conversion of food to glucose
  3. A complete protein source — has all the 9 essential amino acids in proper proportions including other nonessential proteins. It has an amino acid score of 115%
  4. Reduce pain and inflammation – the seeds are packed with Omega 3. More oil and easier to digest than flax seeds
  5. Full of minerals – phosphorus, potassium, manganese and calcium

I was convinced it was worth giving them a try.  We bought five pounds of these little black seeds and started experimenting with how to use them.  It didn’t take long to figure out that  they are an innocuous way to pack big nutritional value into a lot of foods. I began adding them to bread, pasta and rice.  I noticed that when I did, the meal seemed to “stick to my ribs” longer and I was less hungry in 3-4 hours than usual.

I would love to report that they were the cause of my losing weight and having less pain and inflammation in my joints.  The truth is I can’t give you verifiable and specific data.  What I can tell you is that adding a low calorie, concentrated source of minerals, complete protein and Omega 3 is always a good thing!

You will find chia seed is a lot of my recipes.  I throw them into lots of things:  baked goods, casseroles, pasta dishes, salads, cereals and stir fry.  I highly recommend them!

About Genene Cote

Genene Coté -- Nutrition Advocate, Counselor and Coach who is also a Whole Food Plant Based Eater (vegetarian/vegan), cook and gardener.
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