School me about eating Chia Seeds... please!
July 28, 2013 12:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in adding Chia Seeds to my diet, but confronted with many brand choices at the store, I get overwhelmed. So, help! ...please. Why do we eat Chia? What's the best kind/brand? What are some good ways to use the seeds? I try to be wheat-free - is that a concern? I thank you.
posted by jsslz to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
You can sprinkle them on salads or oatmeal for some extra fiber that you don't even really notice, texture-wise. I end up most often just drinking them, though (mix with water or other beverage, stir for a few minutes, drink). The jelly-like texture of the seeds in liquid is probably not for everyone, but I kind of like it. I generally just buy the Trader Joe's seeds; not sure if there's any real difference in brands.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:20 PM on July 28, 2013

I often just add them dry to yogurt, but many people like to soak them first. Here's a NY Times article about chia seeds in smoothies.
posted by malhouse at 12:44 PM on July 28, 2013

I add them raw to granola before I bake it.
posted by monkeymadness at 12:51 PM on July 28, 2013

I love to put chia seeds in yogurt with raspberries or some other fruit with seeds - so it doesn't seem out of place. I also sometimes soak them in water before adding them to lemonade (I find they hydrate better in just plain water). If you go to a natural foods store or co-op they might have them in bulk - so you could buy enough to have a few drinks or breakfasts and see if you like it. I've seen the Nutiva brand of chia seeds in 12oz bags go on sale for 8 or 9 dollars.

Many people like chia seeds because they are high in fiber, omega-3s, and protein.
posted by sorrel at 1:03 PM on July 28, 2013

Best answer: Chia seeds are a good source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.They are also said to be high in protein, potassium, iron, vitamin C and anti-oxidants, but keep in mind that you are probably aren't going to be eating more than 1-2 tablespoons a day (Did I mention the fiber? Respect the fiber! Do not set yourself up for tummy misery by gorging on chia seeds!), so don't count on it as a major source of protein or other nutrients.

It's also pretty damn expensive. It's a nice healthy food that is probably a good addition to your diet, but you're probably better off nutritionally and financially if you mix it with some other nuts and seeds, which have their own benefits and much lower costs.

I have a little jar of chia, hemp, ground flax, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds). If I recall correctly, the proportions are 1 part chia, 1 part hemp (healthy but almost as pricey as chia -- really, neither of these are must-have miracle foods), 3 parts flax and 3 parts pepitas. A couple of spoonfuls of the mixture goes into my morning oatmeal-berries-and-walnuts or my smoothies (3 apples, 1 banana, 3 cups spinach, ice cubes, and about a cup of kefir), which I consume over a couple of days. If you let the oatmeal or smoothie sit for a few minutes, this lets the chia seeds swell into a gel-like texture, which can help you feel full.

About the wheat-free thing: if you have a real allergy or sensitivity to gluten, then chia seeds are fine. They have nothing to do with wheat and have no gluten at all. Most people are fine with moderate amounts of wheat, although it's certainly possible to have a healthy diet without it.
posted by maudlin at 1:06 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Chia seed pudding is wonderful. There are lots of recipes out there on the internet. I soak 2 tablespoons of chia seeds in 1 cup almond milk for about 15 minutes. Then put in the blender with 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder and a favorite sweetener (usually liquid stevia). I've heard it's best to refrigerate overnight, but I've never made it that long! I usually devour it within an hour.
posted by icanbreathe at 1:17 PM on July 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

I have read, but can't confirm, that chia is easier to absorb when soaked in liquid and turned gelatinous. Like others, I often add it to smoothies, and typically alternate between chia and ground flax seed. I usually buy from the bulk section, so I don't pay attention to brand. They are easy to grow organically, as their leaves tend to repel most insects.

I utilize them in my diet because they have a high proportion of omega 3 to omega 6, which is recommended, and can be difficult to get on a plant-based diet.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 1:38 PM on July 28, 2013

We buy our chia in the bulk food section, and add it to drinks, usually half-water-half-lime/lemonade or smoothies.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 5:29 PM on July 28, 2013

Costco sells good-sized bags of chia seeds at a reasonable price. I just mix them in with my yogurt in the mornings.

If you are interested in running at all, you should read the book Born to Run in which Chia gets some mention.
posted by Jacob G at 6:20 PM on July 28, 2013

I like Bob's Red Mill, which I can get online, but if you can find bulk, go for it.

Overnight oats. During my most recent semester of school, 95% of my mornings I had this: 1/3 cup whole rolled oats, 3/4 cup almond milk, 1-2 tbs of chia seeds. Stir in well. Add ins: cinnamon, blueberries, a mashed banana, cocoa powder, honey, agave, sugar, granola, yogurt. The breakfast is perfect for those who don't like big breakfasts.
posted by flying_trapeze at 9:55 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

My wife throws them in everything. Chia seeds, and ground flax, everywhere. A tablespoon of each into pancake batter. A few scoops tossed into muffin or bread mix. Combined with yogurt and breadcrumbs for coating chicken or porkchops. And, yes, occasionally we drink them, mixed into whatever we are having for hydration. Go nuts, experiment with them. Personally, I like the added texture in the pancakes!
posted by caution live frogs at 9:59 AM on July 29, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - I feel so much smarter! I'll see if I can find them in bulk & start adding them to lots of things. Particularly looking forward to the almond milk/cacao pudding!
posted by jsslz at 7:45 PM on July 29, 2013

Chia fresca or chia iskiate — basically limonada with chia seeds — is a traditional drink in Mexico and Central America, and credited (by the author of the book Born to Run, at least) with being one of the secrets to the Tarahumara Indians' amazing running tradition and performance. Tasty and definitely more sustaining than plain water, IMO.

I also like chia pudding, as mentioned above. It's fun to play with different flavor combinations — to me, chia pudding with lemon zest + vanilla tastes almost exactly like the rice pudding I grew up eating.
posted by Lexica at 7:52 PM on July 29, 2013

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