Here's why you should have chia every day (+ 8 cool things you can do with it)
First things first... what even is chia?
Chia is the seed of the Salvia hispanica plant. The Aztecs and Mayan grew it as a food crop, used it as sacrifice in religious ceremonies, and consumed it to get strength and stamina before battle. In the 90’s, all we knew were chia pets. Now, they’re the superstar of healthy breakfast foods, known for their fantastic nutritional properties and weight-loss benefits. Not bad for such a tiny seed!
What can I do with a bag of chia seeds?
A whole lot of stuff! We love chia puddings - they’re a great way to get a lot of nutritional benefits all at once right at the beginning of the day. We also love putting them in smoothies, overnight oats, soups, salads, baked goods like cakes and muffins, and even dressings for an extra boost of goodness!
To grind or not to grind?
Unlike flax seeds, you don’t need to grind chia to get all its benefits. Ground chia keeps for about a year, while whole chia can last up to two years, and both should be kept in a sealed container, in a cool and dark area of your pantry. You can also extend its shelf life by keeping it in the fridge or freezer. However, whole and ground chia have different uses. For example, you can only make chia pudding with whole seeds, and if you’re using chia as an egg replacement in recipes, you should be using ground seeds. Anything else is up to you!
Should I soak my chia?
Soaking makes chia easier to digest, and helps your body get the most out of all its benefits. When you soak your chia, the seed absorbs the liquid and develops a gelatinous coating - that’s what gives chia pudding its awesome texture. It’s a super easy, hands-off process: no rinsing, no tossing the soaking water. Just mix and eat! It’s important to note that if you don’t soak your chia seeds (which is totally OK!), you should make sure you stay hydrated because they’ll absorb the liquid in your body, which could cause dehydration. Another good reason to drink lots of water!
What’s the difference between black chia and white chia?
Black and white chia seeds are basically the same, except for the fact that black chia has a minimally superior antioxidant content due to its colour. Other than that, you can use it the same way, and it has the same taste, texture and nutritional profile.
How much protein is in chia?
One 3 tbsp serving of chia contains 4.7 g of protein. The daily recommended protein intake is about 46g for an average woman, and about 56g for an average man. A serving of chia means 10% of your daily protein right at the beginning of your day - that’s what we call a good start!
Does chia normally contain probiotics?
No. Chia has a lot of benefits, but probiotics aren’t naturally one of them. However, since we know how good probiotics are for your digestion, we’ve come up with the ultimate one-two punch breakfast solution: our ProactivChia!
Why chia seeds are good for you:
- They’re one of the few plants that contain all essential amino acids, making them a source of complete protein.
- It only takes 2 tablespoons of chia to provide you with 100% of your daily omega-3 requirement.
- They’re rich in essential minerals like iron and calcium.
- They contain more antioxidants than blueberries.
- Their high fibre content makes them great for your digestive system.
- Chia expands, helping you feel full for longer and helps you curb your cravings.
- They keep you hydrated since they can absorb up to 12 times their weight in liquid.
8 things you didn’t know you could do with chia
1. Egg substitute
If you don’t eat eggs, you might find baking to be a bit tricky. Chia is one of the most common egg replacements. All you have to do is mix 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water, wait a few minutes for a thick gel to form, and voilà: you’ve got yourself an egg-less egg!
2. Healthy breakfast pudding
Lower in pure carbs than tapioca but with the same sort of bouncy, fun texture, chia pudding makes for an awesome breakfast. Mix chia with your favourite plant-based milk, add a pinch of something delicious like raw cacao powder or maca, and shake it up. Let the chia absorb the liquid, then top with your favourite fresh fruit, chopped nuts, homemade granola… or all of the above! We’ve got plenty of delicious chia pudding recipes on our website, make sure you check them out!
3. Thickener for jams, soups and gravies
Even the simplest three-ingredient berry jam can have an amazing texture thanks to the awesome gelling powers of chia! You can use chia to thicken other things, like sauces, salad dressings (more on that below), and even stews!
Try: field berry chia jam
4. Grain-free crackers
Chia is a great start for making homemade crackers, since it acts as a binder. Mix some gelled chia with your choice of pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, hemp and flax seeds, add some salt and spices of your choice, flatten and bake for crackers with a great crunch and nutritional benefits to boot.
5. Replace breadcrumbs
Chia seeds are a great replacement for breadcrumbs in a whole lot of recipes! They don’t work so well as “breading” but they’re great for binding. We like to use it to keep our tofu balls and falafels together.
6. Homemade energy gel
Planning on climbing a mountain or running a marathon some time soon? Meet your new best friend. A homemade energy gel made with chia will allow you to recover, stay hydrated and get nutrition without any GMOs, additives or weird ingredients.
7. Boost drinks like smoothies, lemonade and tea
Try: chia fresca
8. Amp up your salad dressings
You read that right - chia can add a boost of nutrition to the most innocuous things, and salad dressing is one of them! You can blend it until smooth and undetectable like in this italian-style dressing, or keep it whole like in this classic chia vinaigrette and add a fun texture to your favourite salad!
So what's next, you ask? Why, now that you know how amazing chia is and how easy it is to use, you can start eating more of it! A really good place to start is chia puddings. In case you couldn't tell, we're big fans!