You all may remember the Chia pet…you know…cha, cha, cha CHIA! That had to be the BEST marketing strategy, ranking up there with “Where’s the Beef” and “Clap on, clap off”. Okay, I am dating myself…moving on…
Chia seeds are not only for growing hair onto little animals or Homer Simpson’s head, the teensy seeds that make these dreams of clever plant design a reality are actually seriously underrated. They are bountiful and chock full of nutritive goodness. Chia seeds have been in existence for thousands of years as a staple food of the Native Americans. Chia dates back to the ancient Aztecs, when warriors used these seeds to nourish themselves when away on battle or hunting. They just put a few handfuls in their pockets and this was enough for them to have plenty of energy to fight, kill and feel satisfied. Chia seeds come from a plant called Salvia Hispanica, which is related to the mint family. And Chia is gaining in popularity folks…BIG time…ever since Oprah’s Dr. Oz started to endorse them…well, as a nutrition educator, I fully support the masses new found love for them. It just means you better hurry up and get some for yourself so you too can reap their benefits!
So, why is everybody jumping on the Chia train? Many reasons! First off, chia seeds are a complete protein source. These tiny seeds contain roughly 19-23% protein by weight! This makes chia an excellent resource for vegetarians and vegans, as a fantastic non-animal source of protein! Woo who!
Chia can absorb up to 9 times is volume in water! This helps the body prolong hydration and retain essential electrolytes.
Chia also contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than flax at about 60% Omega-3 compared to flax being closer to 50%. Also, since we Americans typically consume more Omega-6 than 3, chia offers a better, healthier balance. We should have an Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio of between 1:1-4:1, and sadly, on average, ours is more like 30:1!!! Corn and soy byproducts have a lot to do with this skewed ratio. According to Dr. Mirkin, MD on drmirkin.com:
Eating too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 causes clots and constricts arteries to increase risk for heart attacks, increases swelling to worsen arthritis, and aggravates a skin disease called psoriasis. It may block a person’s ability to respond to insulin, causing high insulin and blood sugar levels and obesity. It increases hormone levels of insulin like growth factor-1 that causes certain cancers.
Chia seeds also contain antioxidants in the form of vitamins C and E, but the cool thing about chia is that it also possesses something special called Cinnamic acid, which guards the fragile Omega-3’s and keeps them from going toxic and rancid in the body’s environment. These are why chia has remained so stable and is still around after thousands of years!
Chia is an excellent source of fiber, with 4 teaspoons supplying the body with 9 grams! Chia is able to absorb up to 30 times it weight in water! Chia can help bind to and collect toxic waste and debris and assist with its elimination through the colon.
Chia can help regulate diabetes, as it is slowly digested and will not upset blood-sugar levels, actually helping to sustain and balance them out. And if you are watching calories and weight, chia can help you feel fuller longer!
So, how can you incorporate chia into your eating lifestyle, you ask? Try any of the following:
Sprinkle chia seeds in salads
Blend them in your smoothies-I take 6-8oz rice or almond milk, 1 scoop chia seeds, 1 scoop maca powder (I will do a separate blog on the wonders of maca), 1/2 frozen banana
Make chia gel-see, since chia is super awesome at absorbing up liquid, you can take 1 scoop chia seeds to 9 parts water and mix with a fork or whisk. Let sit for about 10 min and mix again. This will turn into a gel you can eat plain (has a slight nutty flavor) or add to jams, nut butters, anything you want, really! This will add more bulk and volume to your foods
Add to trail mixes…mix in with all your other fave nuts, seeds and dried fruit
Buy Greens+ Bars with Chia-great to have with you on the go
Chia is the next biggest craze peeps, so you heard it hear first! (Unless you watch Oprah) Trust me, you will not regret getting your daily dose of these little guys. Just remember, good things DO come in small packages!
Resources for buying chia seeds:
Vitamin Shoppe or vitaminshoppe.com
Desserts You Don’t Have to Feel Bad About – carolina pride foods
If you guys are anything like me, you love the sweet stuff! It’s our culture and the way we were raised. If you were good, you got a “treat”. But treats these days are generally filled with too much sugar, way too much fat and so many calories, you might as well make dessert the only thing you eat all day (I know…sometimes it seems so worth it!). But in my transition from not-so-mindful to mindful eater, I have come across some sweets that are worth mentioning.
My favorite lately has been Coconut Bliss. And blissful it is! This ice cream (or wanna-be) is made from pure love and goodness. Luna & Larry’s makes this amazing frozen treat and their Vanilla Island contains all organic ingredients of which include: organic coconut milk, organic agave syrup, and organic vanilla. Simple and delicious! With 200 calories in 1/2 cup, this makes it doable. And also, you’re not eating fake, sugary crap! You’re actually enjoying something that is GOOD for you. You all know how much I rave about coconut…I honestly cannot say enough good about it’s healing properties. I urge you to read my blog page entitled “Some truths about coconut oil” and it will set the record straight and turn you into a coconut fan pronto. Some of my favorite toppings include:
Fresh cut strawberries
Sunfoods Cocoa Nibs
Honest Foods Country Squares (Oh my gosh people, if you haven’t tried this granola yet, you HAVE to…the Apple Ginger Spice goes so good on the ice cream-it’s like apple pie a la mode!)
Green & Black’s Cocoa Powder
Another good sweet treat on the market is Dagoba Organic Chocolate. This blows Hershey’s outta the water, friends! Dagoba’s Organic Dark Chocolate bar is 59% semisweet and made with organic chocolate, organic evaporated cane juice, organic cocao butter and non-GMO lecithin. This should satisfy all your chocolate cravings, and according to their site, chocolate is the most craved food in the US and Americans consume 11.7 lbs of it annually! Better make sure it’s organic, people! Otherwise, you’re taking in a whole lotta the bad stuff like corn syrup and trans fats. If you are going to enjoy life’s most precious resource, make it all natural.
I was doing some research and came across Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes. (sweetdebbiesorganiccupcakes.com) It appears she uses all organic, natural ingredients to create a very popular dessert. She uses no hydrogenated oils, refined sugars or artificial sweeteners, but instead uses organic cocoa, organic fruit and even espresso beans. Her Crazy for Coconut and her Double Chocolate Chip look divine! They cost $3.75/each, but I KNOW I have spent way more at Sprinkles since I usually couldn’t just eat one of those sinful little cakes.
You can also make some healthier desserts at home. Last night I made Date and Nut Balls, some were rolled in coconut and others were rolled in Green and Black’s Cocoa Powder…OMG! All you do is take some of your favorite raw nuts (I used pecans and walnuts), a bunch of dates (pitted) and either coconut, cocoa, or even both! Crush the nuts, then mix them with the dates. Roll them into balls and roll into whatever topping you are using. Stick them in the fridge. These can be eaten cold or at room temperature, but man are they yum! They actually provide you with some energy as well since the ingredients are all natural and nuts are brain food, supplying healthy fats!
Heidi Swanson (101cookbooks.com) has a beautiful recipe for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (made the all natural way, of course!) Check out her link with to-die-for picture attached:
My whole point is to inspire to you think about dessert in a different light…dessert doesn’t have to be Mother Load chocolate cake or fatty banana splits. It can be simple, natural ingredients that will not make you have a complete melt down after consuming them. I know I could not live without dessert, and maybe now, you won’t have to either. Bon Appetit!