Aztecs and Mayans were on to chia seeds long before the invention of the Chia Pet. I’d read about this “superfood” in Born to Run and Runner’s World, but I didn’t get around to trying it until Trader Joe’s sold me with a sample taste.
According to the Trader Joe’s label, “These Chia Seeds are sustainably grown, 15 degrees south of the Equator in Australia, and are free from chemical pesticides.” Some quick research confirms that chia is easy to grow sustainably and its oil content acts as a natural insect repellent.
“Home-brewed Red Bull!” is what Born to Run — the bestselling book that’s much-inspired the seed’s surging popularity — dubs chia. “They’re superpacked with omega-3s, omega-6s, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidents. If you had to pick just one desert-island food, you couldn’t do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease; after a few months on the chia diet, you could probably swim home.”
Runner’s World magazine admits that research on chia is incomplete, but still lists chia as one of “six seeds [that] deserve to be front and center in your kitchen,” noting that “many runners are using these round black specks to help them power through long workouts.” (What are the other five seeds, you ask? Sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, flaxseed, and “Inca peanuts.)
It’s not just a “runner’s food.” Businessweek has named chia seeds “Wall Street’s Stimulant of Choice.”
I have officially jumped on the chia seed bandwagon. Chia can be added into a bottle of water, sprinkled over yogurt, blended into smoothies, baked into bread, dumped into soup, or even used to coat salmon. I like to make a chia “pudding” by mixing the seeds with almond milk in a 1:4 seed to liquid ratio. I add some frozen berries, stick it in the fridge, and in the morning the whole mix has expanded into a sweet fruity pudding that makes a nutritious, energizing breakfast.
Whether or not chia lives up to its hype, the bottom line is that in just a tablespoon there are 6 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, and 2.9 grams of omega-3s. That’s a nutrient concentration level hard to beat!
Find chia at your local Trader Joe’s ~$5 for 5.3oz.
You can also find organic, no-tillage farming, environmentally sustainable chia seeds and bars at Health Warrior.