Chia Seeds – worth their weight or what?

So, in my neck of the woods, the summer holidays are trickling to a close. There is only one week until school starts, which means that five weeks have somehow already gone past. How can that be? My experiment of choosing to study a semester 3 study load over the summer has been successful, I think – at any rate I have not fallen into my normal summer lethargy and pointlessness, which is what tends to happen when I am without a project for too long :). I know, I am a little unusual, but a person can have too much of a good thing! I have also been working on my large writing project, with a completed first draft only weeks away…

I suppose that it was fortunate that I had all of these ‘at home’ projects to keep me busy, as my son has been keeping us at home because of a persistent cough – poor fella. Luckily we were super busy for the first two weeks of the holidays, because the last three have been very quiet. I have noticed that when my otherwise healthy son gets laid out with an illness, it’s usually because there are some major changes happening inside of him – and when he recovers he is somehow different – more grown up, more developed cognitively and emotionally. Have you ever noticed that about your children?

So, as promised, this week I have been investigating chia seeds – what are they and why would you bother eating them?

chia-seeds

Chia seeds were used by the Aztecs to feed their priests and their warriors as long ago as 3500 BCE, and were grown and traded extensively in the center of Mexico for hundreds of years. ‘Chia’ comes from the Aztec word ‘chian’, which means oily – and in fact chia seeds have the highest omega 3 oil content out of any seed or grain in the world. When the Spanish invaded this area, they destroyed the native people’s high value crops, specifically quinoa and chia. Chia virtually disappeared until the 1980’s and 1990’s when the Americans started looking around for new crops to grow.

They are a sturdy little seed which keep for a long time because of their high antioxidant levels, which also protect its tidy little store of omega 3 fats. It has some interesting properties, not the least its ability to absorb water to become a thick, jelly like substance, a high fibre content and a very useful store of calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. I guess they can be compared in many ways to flaxseeds – except that unlike flaxseeds, you don’t have to grind them to access their nutritional goodness, and they are a much more stable source of (plant) omega 3 oils than flaxseeds because of their high antioxidant levels. They are also soothing and cleansing for the digestive system, although like all high fibre foods, you must make sure to drink enough water when you include them in your diet.

On a side note, Australia is one of the largest producers of chia seeds in the world – they are grown in the Western Australia Ord Valley by The Chia Co. Chia is a very fussy little plant – it can only be grown between 15-25 degrees north and south of the equator, and the Ord Valley fits into that criteria. Food is so interesting you know, when you start digging around!

bk_discover2-small
A crop of chia plants, grown in Western Australia by The Chia Co.

So, in the interests of playing around with my food, adding new things in and trying new recipes, chia seeds seemed like an easy, fun choice. And they were. I have used them in smoothies, pancakes, biscuits and there is also an interesting little breakfast pudding that I want to try as well! I particularly like them in a lunch time smoothie, because they fill me up. Normally I don’t find smoothies a particularly satisfying meal replacement, but when I add a tablespoon of chia seeds and another of coconut oil, I am full for hours.

It’s school holidays, and the kids love it when I make pancakes for them. I have always used pancakes as a base to squeeze in all kinds of different flours and other goodies, and it doesn’t seem to matter what I put in them, they eat them up with gusto. Here is my most recent experimental pancake recipe:

Pancakes:

1 1/2 cups of SR flour (I use Spelt flour)
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
2 tablespoons of yogurt (dairy or coconut)
2 free range eggs
About 2 cups of milk (I use almond milk) or until desired consistency is reached.

Add dry ingredients to a four cup jug, then add the wet ingredients. Mix well. Melt butter in the frypan (the frypan is hot when the butter stops sizzling) and pour in desired amount of batter. Flip when the top side of the pancake bubbles and serve hot with your favourite toppings.

Have you played around with Chia seeds? How do you like to use them?

 

11 comments

  1. Very interesting observations about your son. I hope he recovers soon. I’ve used chia for a few years but somehow got out of the habit in recent months so thanks for the reminder how wonderful they are.

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    • Hullo Ardys. Yes, I think chia seeds can be a bit like that, becoming lost and forgotten in our cupboards. How did you like to use them when you were in the habit of it?
      My son is getting better everyday, thank you – just slowly! He is pretty well within himself, but it really isn’t the kind of cough I would want to share around, if you get my meaning…I’m guessing the 2015/16 summer holidays won’t be one that he remembers with great fondness lol 🙂

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      • I use the chia much as you described, in pikelets, soaked in coconut water or yogurt as the basis for a ‘cereal’ type of breakfast. Had them this morning after your reminder post and I forgot how filling and sustaining they can be so thanks so much! x

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  2. Regarding your son, my son does much the same. His being “sick” is releasing a lot of what I call, old energies. Last week he was sick: whole body felt simply awful for probably 3 days, one night of being sick to his stomach, one partial day of fever. He missed an entire week of school. Poor kiddo is so sensitive to absolutely everything. An intuitive friend told me she saw him releasing a lot and also in a growth spurt (when I measure him last night, he grew 1 1/4″ in the last 7 weeks.

    I love chia seeds. Do you know of a chia pet? Where you cover an unglazed hollowed clay animal with chia seeds, and keep the thing filled with water, so the seeds germinate and grow? I loved having one. But it’s only been in the past several years that chia’s health benefits have been touted here in the US. I love knowing their good qualities don’t easily go rancid. Now and then I’ll buy a little pouch with pureed fruits/ greens/ and chia seeds in it. One of those things you twist off the cap and suck it down. I love how the chia makes it gelatinous with the little seed crunch. Thanks for that reminder.

    I love visiting your summer, going there vicariously, while we’re in the thick of our winter: lots of clouds and rain, punctuated by some freezing weather and a touch of snow. We’re in eagle time where I live, also. I’ll have to make a post of eagle photos. So majestic!

    I hope your son’s cough moves through and out soon.

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    • Hi Susan, ah, so you’ve noticed it with your son as well! Physical growth is definitely one of the things that happen in these periods, along with other changes. Just in time for his ascent into highschool (or what you would call middle school). I really feel that it is a process and one that we just have to roll with. We are all pretty content, although my children have probably spent a little bit too much time together if you get my meaning 🙂
      I think it’s one of my favourite things about blogging and social media in general – how we get to know people from all over the world and get insights into their lives. Us, mid-summer, crystal clear creeks and at times scorching heat – you, cold, rainy, freezing and a touch of snow! Isn’t our world amazing? I’d love to see those eagle pics.
      I saw a chia pet mentioned when I was reading up on them and had no idea what they were: I think chia seeds have been on the radar of the US longer than it has been on ours, unsurprisingly since they come from your part of the world. I’ve never seen the pets before 🙂 I like how stable they are too – seeds can be so unstable, especially with their oils.
      Be well!

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  3. Chia seeds are so trendy they’re hard to avoid! I’ve eaten Chia seeds in food I’ve bought -bread, rice, etc and Chia Pods (yuk, slimy) but not cooked with it myself although I may try when I’ve progressed further with my own bread making. It’s considerate of you to stay home with the cough, others are not so.

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  4. Large Writing Project sounds exciting…perhaps we will get a read in this forum?? I am pondering what form Writing takes for me for 2016. Some sort of aspect of ‘The Natural Space to Be’ project that I have been pottering away on. I am enjoying the creativity of developing up a website and with some technological perseverance and patience with my own sporadic interaction with the on line world, I should be able to invite you over to say hi at some point. Really value your blog – I come and go in relation to my readership of most online forums. Yours is a go-to, every time.

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    • That is so lovely that you value my writing Kate. I have been working on this book of mine for over a year now, so I’m excited to be nearly finished the first draft. Mostly because it is the longest writing project that I have ever done, and while a first draft is not finished, it is still a milestone of completion. I am not sure how it will be going out into the world yet – that is something that I will be playing with over this year, as I tidy it up and get it edited.
      I would love to be invited into whatever place your writing is happening this year. I miss your blog!

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