SUPERFOOD SPOTLIGHT: CHIA
By Stefanie Cassetto
A superfood can be as common as the blueberries. Natural foods regarded as especially beneficial because of their nutrient profile or their health-protecting qualities, known as “superfoods” are easy to recognize once you start looking. But sometimes, we have to be stretched to try something a little out of the ordinary, even if it’s been around for centuries, like Chia.
CHIA SEEDS ARE ROOTED IN HEALTH HISTORY
Chia Seeds, most famously known for growing the popular Chia Pet, are quickly gaining new status in the world of health food. Chia, or salvia hispanica, can be traced back to Central America where it was considered more valuable than gold and the Aztecs used it as one of their primary plant sources of food. Although Chia was banished and essentially forgotten about after the Spanish conquest because of it’s connection to the religious systems of the Aztec culture, it has been making a comeback in recent years.
Virtually a perfect food, Chia has the highest omega-3 profile among natural foods, high in protein, antioxidants, calcium, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, boron and dietary fiber. Similar in size to Flax Seeds, Chia are more user-friendly and virtually tasteless, making them an excellent addition to your diet.
The magic of Chia is when mixed with water. The seeds have hydrophylic qualities which means they absorb more than nine times their volume, and create a gelatinous substance. Once in the gel form, dieters can slurp Chia as a meal-replacement. Long-distance runners and skiers can take Chia gel and benefit from long-term hydration. Chia also allows the body to absorb more nutrients while aiding the digestive cycle. This process effectively slows the rate at which carbohydrates are converted into blood sugar, rendering Chia a great addition to a diabetic diet.
Chia uses are numerous from adding the gel to your tea, in soups, to yogurts, smoothies or as a thickener for sauces. The Chia gel can also be used in baking to replace oil, adding nutrients into your baking.
LOADED WITH POWERFUL OMEGA-3’S
Omega 3’s are important for healthy skin, cardiovascular health, nervous system development, immune function, and inflammation reduction. So, just the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids in Chia make it worth adding to your weekly meal routine. But, research has linked this valuable food as a being beneficial for many other health issues as well, including diabetes, hypoglycemia, celiac disease, and lowering cholesterol.
So, when you are tired of the same old routine, experiment with this nutritionally-dense superfood. Here’s just one example:
CHIA SEED OMELET WITH ASPARAGUS
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 eggs
- 4 asparagus spears
- 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
Soak 1-tablespoon chia seeds in 2 tablespoons of water for 20 minutes or more; stir once or twice to prevent clumping. This will make a very thick gel. Gradually stir in 2 eggs and whisk well. Steam 4 asparagus spears. Add grapeseed oil in a nonstick pan. Whisk egg and ground chia seed mix again to prevent seeds settling out. Pour into pan and cook gently until top is set. Using a lid will help the top set faster. Season to taste, put asparagus spears in center, fold the omelet over and serve.