As far as seeds go, there is a (relatively) new kid on the block that is being touted as the next super food. The small, black (and sometimes white) seeds are called chia seeds and have extreme health benefits.
By way of a quick background, chia seeds grow on a chia plant which, botanically, forms part of the mint family. Originally native to South America, this little miracle seed is fast spreading throughout the Western diet and can now be sourced in specialty health food stores and some major supermarket foods.
So what is so special about chia seeds? In a nutshell, chia provides a potent amount of nutrients with minimum calories. The seeds are choc full of fibre, omega fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants and protein. As well as these benefits, they are extremely satiating due to their ability to expand in the stomach (or in liquids) prior to digestion.
It is super easy to incorporate chia into your diet as it can be eaten both raw and cooked. I have used it sprinkled on muesli, in porridge, on quinoa dishes or in smoothies. It can also be used in savoury meals such as in curries, on vegetables or as an extra crunch on salads as an alternative to nuts.
Some further quick health facts about chia:
- Ounce for ounce, chia seeds have more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. Chia is also extremely high in omega-6. Both nutrients are vital to the body as these essential fatty acids build new cells and regulate various processes in the body.
- Chia contains high levels of calcium and deliver 18% of the daily recommended intake per ounce.
- Chia absorbs 12 times it own weight so therefore works wonders in keeping your appetite at bay.
- Chia offers one of the most complete sources of protein, meaning you do not need to combine them with any other food to gain maximum health benefits during the digestion phase.
One of my favourite ways to eat chia is through dessert! There are millions of chia pudding recipes out there but below is a simple yet tasty one that is guaranteed to keep you full long after dinner and into the night.
- ½ cup chia seeds
- 1 ½ cups of nut milk (you can make your own or buy the unsweetened version of almond or cashew milk at the health food store)
- ¼ cup of frozen berries (unsweetened)
- 1 teaspoon of stevia or rice malt syrup (found in the health food aisle) if you want the sweet taste. A healthier option is to use finely blended medjool dates
- ½ teaspoon vanilla powder
- Pinch of salt
- Coconut flakes (optional, if you want a chunkier pudding)
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir. Divide into bowls or storage containers and place in the fridge. These little beauties can be eaten for breakfast or as a healthy dessert.