Energetics of Chia: Superfood, Not Pet

A decade ago chia pets were all the rage. Today, chia seeds are known as a staple superfood in health-conscious households. Chia comes from Mexico’s Mayan and Aztec civilizations, who used the tiny black and white seeds as an energy booster. Evidence suggests that Aztecs used chia seeds dating back to 3,500 B.C.!

These seeds are the best plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are high in fiber, protein, antioxidants, and calcium. Chia seeds contain greater amounts of antioxidants than blueberries! They are often added to beverages, including kombucha and certain sweet drinks. When mixed with water or water-based drinks, the seeds cause the liquid to form into a gel with a slightly chewy and mildly crunchy texture, not unlike tapioca. They are also often added to cereal, sauces, yogurt, and baked goods. In fact, it is a great whole grain to add to muffins, breads, and more.

Chia seeds can also last almost two years without refrigeration. You can use chia gel as an egg-replacer.ll

Although rumored to aid in weight loss, research has found no such trend. This, however, does not diminish the extraordinary health benefits of chia.

Energetics: Promotes heart health, promotes cardiovascular health, reduces inflammation, reduces cholesterol, enhances cognitive performance, regulates bowel function, prevents hypertension, enhances satiety, regulates blood sugar, and lowers tryglycerides.

Cautions: If you have allergies to sesame or mustard seeds, there is a higher risk of you having a chia allergy. Consult your physician or refrain from consuming chia seeds if you are on high blood pressure medication or blood thinners.

Chia Chipotle Bean Burger

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Bean burgers make a fast, casual and tasty meal that is high in protein and fiber and low in fat. Go ahead and make this recipe your own: Play around with the veggies and seasonings and experiment with other types of beans — you can use kidney and cannellini beans, chickpeas, or even lentils.

1 15-ounce can black beans
1/4 cup chia gel (see recipe below)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup corn kernels or sautéed or cooked vegetables (alternatively, use frozen corn kernels, defrosted, or vegetables leftover from another meal)
1 teaspoon canned chipotle in adobo, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced cilantro or parsley (optional)
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil

1. In the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix or Blendtec), pulse the ingredients until blended. Do not over-process; you do not want to liquefy!

2. Form the mixture into patties.

3. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat.

4. Cook the patties until golden, about five minutes. Flip and repeat.

5. Alternate cooking method: Preheat oven to 325F. Place the patties on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cook until golden, 12 to 15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

6. Serve on hamburger rolls with the condiments of your choice.

Chia Gel

Makes 1 1/4 cups

1 cup cool water
1 3/4 tablespoons chia seeds

1. Pour the water into a sealable plastic or glass container. Slowly pour chia seeds into water while briskly mixing with wire whisk.

2. Wait 3 or 4 minutes and then whisk again

3. Let the mixture stand about 10 minutes before whisking again. Seal the container and store mixture in the refrigerator for up to two weeks to use as needed. Whisk before using. Note: Soaking in water will soften the chia seeds, but they will still be slightly crunchy.

Resources
Coates, Wayne. Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood.
NPR Staff. “Chewing Chia Packs A Superfood Punch.” NPR Books. http://www.npr.org/2012/07/15/156551074/chewing-chia-packs-a-superfood-punch
“Seeds, chia seeds, dried.” Self Nutrition Data. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2
“Top 10 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds.” SFGate. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/top-10-health-benefits-chia-seeds-6962.html
Zelman, Kathleen M. “The Truth About Chia: Can chia seeds really help you lose weight?” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-chia