Super food: Chia Seeds

The first thing I think of when I hear the word “chia” is a faint memory of my mothers furry green pot creature on sitting on the window sill. The “chia pet”, a clay figurine with sprouted chia seeds growing out of the top of its head as “hair” or “fur”, was the first form of chia seeds that had substantial sales the 1980s. Still today roughly half a million of these green headed pots are sold as novelties or household plants. These innocent looking grey seeds will take you by surprise when you find out that they are not just for decoration…there is a multitude of ways these guys can be used in different food items to add nutritional value!

Chia or Salvia hispanica lamiaceae, is a flowering plant species native to Mexico and Guatemala, with a long history of use in medicinal and culinary applications. Centuries ago in pre-Columbian times Chia was a staple crop, comparable to maize. The seed was commonly ground down into chia flour known as chianpinolli and used in tortillas, tamales, and beverages. Chia seed beverages are still commonly consumed today as chia fresco, which is a mixture of whole chia seed, lemon, fruit juice and sugar.

Why is it healthy?

In the past decade, consumers have shifted their demand for these little seeds from goofy sprouted chia pets to apply their wonders in a variety of dietary applications. This is mainly due to the rich nutritional content of Chia seeds. Comparable and slightly higher than ground flax seed, dried chia seeds are an excellent source of omega 3 fats and dietary fibre which poses the ability to positively impact blood sugar control and risk of cardiovascular disease. However, there is a need for more high quality research in this area to provide adequate evidence to support these direct health benefits from consuming chia seed.

Just 2 tablespoons (30ml) of dried chia contains:

–        Over 8g of fibre

–        4g of Omega 3 fats

–        Almost 4g of protein

–        136 mg of calcium

–        78 mg of magnesium

–        Antioxidants!


Chia seeds are oil-based and naturally gluten free. You can purchase black or white varieties at some grocery stores (i.e. Save on Foods), pharmacies, and health food stores. There exist are a variety of creative ways to supplement your food with chia and many online recipes to explore!

Including Chia in your diet-

Breakfast Ideas:

–        Add 1-2 tablespoons to your cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, homemade breads and cookies

–        Fruit and chia smoothie (recipe in this month’s Newsletter)

–        Baked into breakfast muffins

–        Chia seed fruit spread (instead of jam)

Snack Ideas:

–        Chia seed coconut pudding

–        Fruit with chia yogurt dressing

–        Chia power balls

–        Chia seed guacamole and veggies

Lunch and Supper Ideas:

–        Chia seed and cornmeal encrusted fish fillet

–        Add to salad as a topping

–        Ground chia seed to thicken sauces and dressings (e.g. cashew and sun dried tomato chia seed dressing)

–        Chia seed yam patties or chia seed fish cakes

–        Chia and coconut encrusted chicken tenders

–        Chia seed roasted cauliflower

Did you know that…

When left to soak in liquid, chia seeds swell and form a gel like consistency similar to that of a raw egg. This why Chia seed gel works so well as an egg substitute in allergen free or vegan baking!