How’s your week going? First of all, thank you so much for all your lovely comments on my triathlon training recap post on Monday. Your support and encouragement means so much to me and it’s comforting knowing several of you have been through the same sort of experiences, whether in athletic pursuits or otherwise.
With that said, Monday was a whole lot of talking about ME, so today, I want to talk about something completely different: chia seeds!
It’s been a while since we’ve geeked out on nutrition and done a deep dive into a particular superfood, so let’s break that cycle and talk about these little fibre-packed friends, shall we?
When you think about chia seeds, my guess is that they come to mind as a smoothie mix-in – sort of a hidden ingredient, and definitely not the star of the show. But you GUYS. They are totally star-ingredient worthy. Here’s 4 reasons why:
- Chia seeds are loaded with fibre (about 11g per 1-oz serving) which is essential for good digestion, and the gel-like substance that forms when the seeds absorb liquid can help to prevent blood sugar spikes.
- They’re packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fats, which we need for great brain health. Did you know our brains are made up of about 60% fat? Keep yours healthy with plenty of omega-3s! Gram for gram, chia seeds contain more omega-3s than salmon. Crazy, right?
- A 1-oz serving of chia seeds contains 18% of our daily calcium requirement, which means you can still get plenty of calcium without resorting to dairy sources (and we all know how controversial the whole dairy thing can be…)
- They’re a source of protein too! With a good variety of amino acids, chia seeds are about 14% protein by weight, an essential macronutrient for keeping us full and building new muscle tissue.
Outside of those 4 reasons, if you’re an endurance athlete, there’s even more incentive to love chia seeds. In case you haven’t heard, the Tarahumara were an ancient civilization that lived in Mexico many many years ago. They were known for their ability to run 100-200 miles over just a couple of days like it was no big deal. Their fuel of choice? Water mixed with chia seeds, also known as iskiate. Chia seeds were an integral part of the Tarahumara people’s diet, and there’s lots of research being done that suggests these little guys might have endurance-boosting benefits to us modern-day folks as well.
So how exactly can you incorporate chia seeds, aside from just adding them into your smoothies? There are plenty of uses, including…
- As an egg replacer – 1 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 3 tbsp water can be used instead of eggs to make many recipes vegan-friendly.
- As a thickener – yes, this works in smoothies, but also in soups, dressings and sauces as well. If you don’t want the seeds to be so noticeable, simply grind them in a coffee grinder before adding to other ingredients.
- As a gelling agent for jam – Puree some berries and mix them with chia seeds, then leave the puree to sit for an hour or longer – it’ll thicken up and turn into a perfect jam-like spread for your morning toast!
- In gluten-free crackers – Flip over a box of store-bought gluten-free crackers and you’ll likely see chia seeds as an ingredient. Their gel makes them a good binder, and although I haven’t made any chia crackers myself, I’ve put together a great big Pinterest board featuring chia cracker recipes and a whole lot more!
In addition to all those uses, chia pudding has got to be one of THE easiest ways to incorporate the seeds into your diet. All you need to add is your liquid of choice and a few flavourings, then give it a stir and let the chia seeds work their magic. I don’t even want to think about how much chia pudding I taste tested on the weekend, but these Vanilla Orange Chia Pudding Parfaits were the final result.
Chia seeds and almond milk can be a little bland on their own, so I mixed some fresh orange zest, vanilla, and a little stevia into the pudding for a nice citrusy flavour. I topped my parfaits with some granola from Granola Girl (a Vancouver-based small business that produces amazing vegan, non-GMO granola), but feel free to dress yours up with whatever you like!
Vanilla Orange Chia Pudding Parfaits
Prep Time: 5 mins (+30 non-active)
Cook Time: 0 mins
Ingredients (1 serving)
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 packet stevia (or alternative sweetener, to taste)
- 1 orange, diced
- granola of choice as a topper (optional)
In a container or glass, mix together the chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla, orange zest and stevia. Let it sit for 30 minutes, or overnight in the fridge.
Peel the orange and dice it into small pieces.
Stir the chia pudding. It should have a jelly-like consistency, much thicker than when you first stirred the ingredients together.
Top the chia pudding with orange pieces and sprinkle with granola.
Serve immediately, or seal the container and take it with you to go.
Prefer to let someone else make your chia pudding for you? I can arrange for that! I recently found out about an awesome chia seed company called The Chia Co, and not only do they sell chia seeds, but they’ve also just released Chia Pods and Chia Pod Oats! I’m currently hosting an Instagram giveaway to celebrate The Chia Co’s availability in Canada (currently just in Ontario Loblaw’s, but expanding soon!) and there’s a great big chia prize pack up for grabs. You can hop over to my Instagram account to get all the details and to enter. Just look for this image:
Alrighty, now over to you! Tell me…
- What’s your favourite way to enjoy chia seeds?
- Any great chia pudding flavour combinations? Let’s hear them!