Chia Seeds 101: Nutrition, Benefits and Recipes

Chia Seeds 101: Nutrition, Benefits and Recipes

Kerry Roberts

Your Comprehensive Guide To Chia Seeds
Everipe was born from a not-so-crazy notion: that good nutrition needs to be doable in today’s lifestyle.  We’re all about practical ways to eat clean, and chia seeds just vibe with that idea. They’re nutrition powerhouses, mild flavored, and super versatile. That’s why you can find them in every Everipe smoothie. Let’s take a deep dive into the greatness of the chia seed: 

 Mankind’s Love of Chia Goes Way Back (Yes, Even Before the '80s)

Chia-based foods are popping up everywhere and in every form (pudding! tortilla chips! baked goods!) but the truth is, their street cred goes way back—even before the cha-cha-cha-chia days. Stay with us here, because this is pretty interesting: chia seeds originated in Mexico and Guatemala as a food staple for the Aztecs and Mayans. Cultivated as early as 3500 BC, “chia” is the Aztec word for strength (see?) and were offered as a gift to Aztec gods in religious ceremonies. They were a major crop for Native American tribes, used for both food and medicinal purposes. And it’s true, the ancient seed took a hard left and became a novelty item for a number of years, but thankfully, that course has been righted (although chia pets are forever awesome) and the mighty seed is back again in mainstream cultures as a functional food. 

Though She Be But Small, She Is Mighty

If chia seeds ever had a LinkedIn profile, it would read something like this:

Superfood, 3500 BC-Present.  Resume highlights include:

  • Fiber Powerhouse

  • 7 grams of polyunsaturated fat per serving

  • 4.4. grams of complete protein per serving 

  • One serving contains 18% of the RDV for calcium

  • Abundant in trace minerals like manganese, phosphorus, copper, selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium

  • The richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids  

  • Very big deal during the holiday season in the 1980s

    What’s In It For You? Potentially A Lot.

    The fiber in chia seeds can help support digestion and keep you full for longer.  According to Everipe’s resident Holistic Chef and Nutrition Consultant Heidi Kutzelnig, chia seeds contain an “insoluble fiber, meaning the body doesn’t fully break it down during the digestion process. Instead, chia seeds pass through the digestive tract intact. This helps in two major ways: to gently clean out your intestines of debris and allow you to feel full longer." Outside the digestive tract, fiber has been shown to support heart health, lower inflammation, and speed up metabolism.  Keep in mind, there is oodles of fiber in fruits and vegetables and chia seeds should be a balanced part of your overall intake. 

    According to the Harvard School of Public Health, those oh-so-good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids found in chia seeds have a “beneficial effect” on cardiovascular health, particularly by lowering cholesterol, regulating blood pressure, and decreasing inflammation. That being said, your diet should include multiple sources of Omega 3’s, as research has shown that some sources are more accessible to the body than others. 

    The minerals in chia help with a variety of systems and processes in the body, like heart health, bone health, tissue maintenance, metabolism, muscle development, and nerve health. Pretty important stuff, right? And some of the minerals in chia, like copper and manganese, are lacking in a modern diet, so three cheers for covering your bases! 

    As always, remember that chia seeds are best served as part of a balanced, well-rounded diet with plenty of fruits, veggies, and lean protein.  

    Our Favorite Uses 

    Chia seeds can be found in every blend of Everipe smoothies for all the super benefits listed above, and because they become gelatinous when blended, which is part of secret sauce in making our smoothies so creamy.  

    Chia seeds can be enjoyed raw, soaked, cooked or toasted. Because they are so versatile and have such a mild flavor, chia seeds are a go-to nutrient booster in baked goods and snacks.  And since they’re such an easy ingredient to work with (that whole #doablenutrition thing) we’ve got a versatile, fool-proof, holistic chef developed recipe for chia pudding:

    CHEF HEIDI’S CHIA PUDDING 

    There are many ways to prepare this lovely recipe. Here is a base recipe for chia “pudding.” Ready for this?

    INGREDIENTS:

    Non-Dairy Milk 
    From Heidi: Go nuts here! Coconut milk is my personal favorite, but rice, oat, and almond also work great (or try a flavored variety!).  Also, feel free to use dairy milk—I just prefer the taste/texture of the alternatives for this recipe.  Plus, they keep longer.
    Chia Seeds
    Vanilla Extract and/or Cocoa Powder

    DIRECTIONS (for a single serving):
    1. Add 3 Tbsp. chia seeds per 1 cup of liquid.
    2. Place in a container, shake well.
    From Heidi: I like mason jars best – they seal tight and keep longer. 
    3. Refrigerate to set overnight. This will keep for a week. 

    FLAVOR COMBOS TO TRY:
    1. Chocolate flavored milk alternative sweetened with maple syrup 1-2 tsp (to taste). Shake first and then add your chia seeds. Top with ripe banana slices and nuts. 
    2. Vanilla flavored milk alternative sweetened with maple syrup 1-2 tsp (to taste). Shake first and then add your chia seeds. Top with sweet berry chunks and crunchy granola
    3. Plain milk alternative with 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice blend (you can find this at any major grocery store) and 1-2 tsp brown sugar (to taste) added to it (blend this first for best results, then add your chia seeds).  Top with banana slices.
    4. Vanilla flavored milk alternative with 2 tsp. black sesame seeds and 1-2 tsp. maple syrup (to taste) added to it (blend this first for best results, then add your chia seeds). Top with ripe sweet blueberries and black sesame seeds
    5. Coconut milk (I like the canned stuff best – full of flavor and no junk added) with 1-2 tsp. agave syrup (to taste) and 1/2 tsp. lime juice (blend this first for best results, then add your chia seeds). Top with fresh tropical fruit(s) like kiwi, mango, or papaya.

    TOPPING SUGGESTIONS 
    From Heidi: I like to add crunch on top, best to add after pudding has set/at time of serving so they stay crispy

    • Seed Blends
    • Crispy Granola 
    • Nuts