Friday, February 8, 2013

Real Food: Chia Seeds, Two Ways

To close the week, I thought I'd share a couple of very easy ways to incorporate chia seeds into your diet.

Chia seeds (yes, these chia seeds) have a lot to offer, like fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, protein, antioxidants and calcium.  They also increase satiety (they help you feel fuller longer) and have a cleansing effect.  You can add them to many foods you already consume, and you don't need to grind them (like flax) in order to get their full benefit.

Many people like to add chia seeds to shakes and smoothies.  I never do this because I have a problem with chia seeds: the consistency.  I just won't ever get over it.  That said, they can be quite good when prepared well, and rather than hiding them in something I already think is delicious on it's own (like an oatmeal berry smoothie) I like to face them head on and just do it.  

Chia seeds look like an ordinary seed, but when added to a liquid, they start soaking it up and form a gelatinous coating (similar to a tomato seed.)  Mentally, I have a hard time with that texture.  They taste just fine.  It's not you, chia, it's me.

Here are two ways we consume chia seeds: first in a simple chia "tapioca", and next with oatmeal.  My kids inhale this chia pudding, and I don't mind chia seeds in my oatmeal at all.

Simple Vanilla Chia Pudding with Golden Raisins and Almonds


1C  Original or Vanilla Almond Milk
1/3 C  Chia Seeds
1t  Pure Vanilla Extract (adjust to taste)
1t  Stevia in the Raw or other sweetener (adjust to taste)
1T  Golden Raisins
1T  Crushed Raw Almonds

Stir to combine, cover, and refrigerate one hour or overnight.

This is a basic recipe- you can experiment.  Try decreasing the chia to just 1/4 C to adjust the consisitency, or perhaps substitute with chocolate almond milk.  You can also add new spices or extracts, or toss in some berries, which work well with chia seeds.  

Apple-Sweetened Cinnamon Oatmeal


The juice of 1/2 apple (about 1/4 C if not using a juicer)
1t to 1T Cinnamon (to taste)
1T  Chia Seeds

Combine the juice, cinnamon, and chia seeds into a small reusable container.  Make several at one time and keep in the fridge up to one week.

To eat, I prepare a bowl of oatmeal, then combine with the chia/apple/cinnamon mixture.  Instantly I have oats with a chia boost, sweetened, spiced, and ready to enjoy.  

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