Ch-ch-ch-chia. If you think of chia pets when you hear the word "chia," you're missing out on a great way to boost your health and weight loss, says Janie Hoffman, author of "Chia Vitality: 30 Days to Better Health, Greater Vibrancy, and a More Meaningful and Purposeful Life."
Although other seeds also offer benefits, such as omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber and antioxidants, Janie says that chia seeds are unique. As the CEO of Mamma Chia, she's become an expert. Her products include Mamma Chia Squeeze Vitality Snacks in various fruit flavors.
"Chia seeds can be absorbed and enjoyed whole, while flax seeds and its nutrients are best absorbed by the body when ground," she told me. In addition, "when combined with liquid, chia seeds form a unique gel. This gel is very important for a number of reasons. It helps one feel fuller longer, helping you maintain a healthy diet. The gel also surrounds the seed's carbohydrates during digestion slowing its release into the blood stream and helping to moderate blood sugar levels. The chia gel also helps with hydration, as the gel retains water, making chia a favorite ingredient for endurance athletes and other active souls. Lastly, chia seeds are richer in soluble fiber, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium than flax seeds."
For those who want to use chia seeds for weight loss, Janie notes:
At only 70 calories per tablespoon, chia seeds are one of the most efficient, healthy low-calorie foods for helping people achieve weight loss goals. Chia seeds absorb TWELVE times their weight, taking up space in one's stomach that might otherwise be filled with excess calories. Also, as a result of the high fiber content and satiating protein, chia seeds quench hunger and reduce the total number of calories one absorbs, keeping one fuller for longer. Lastly, chia seeds stabilize blood sugar, eliminating those roller coaster highs and lows that can be found in even low-calorie, but carbohydrate rich, foods.
Are you a vegan? Then get ready to dig into chia seeds.
"Chia seeds contain the highest level of Omega-3 fatty acids of any plant source. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds have a whopping 5.1 grams of omega-3s, FIVE times the USDA's dietary guideline of alpha- linolenic (the kind of omega-3s in chia) for women," Janie says.
"Chia seeds are one of the very few vegan sources of "complete proteins." These proteins have all nine of the essential amino acids and are found in eggs, beef, pork, poultry, fish and dairy products. For vegans, chia seeds are also one of highest quality complete proteins, with a high proportion of essential amino acids. The amount of protein in a chia seed - 4.7 grams per a one-ounce serving - is similar to that in lentils and chickpeas, and higher in protein than wheat, corn, rice oats and barley. And, gram for gram, chia has more than TWICE the protein of vegan dietary staple tofu."
We asked Janie to share her favorite recipe. You can get more recipes and details on how to use chia seeds for weight loss and health by clicking here for: "Chia Vitality: 30 Days to Better Health, Greater Vibrancy, and a More Meaningful and Purposeful Life."
Note: Look for chia seeds in health food stores. It's also available online, and we recommend going for organic versions, such as Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Chia Seeds.
Chia Caesar Kale Salad
Just think, until recently, most us only ate kale cooked ... and then, suddenly kale salad became a restaurant staple. I'm in love with kale salads and particularly like the Caesar variation - which tastes a lot like a traditional Caesar salad but is a whole lot better for you (and the heartier kale makes it extra satisfying). The kale leaves will become a little softer when they sit in the dressing for 10 minutes. You can also soften the leaves up by massaging the dressing into the kale.
Makes four 2-1/2 cup servings
8 cups packed fresh baby kale or chopped kale leaves, thick stems removed
1 recipe Chia Caesar Dressing (recipe below)
2 ounces small gluten-free crackers, such as Mary's Gone Crackers Organic - Original flavor
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
4 lemon wedges, for garnish
1.In a large bowl, toss together the kale, dressing, and half of the crackers until well combined. Let stand about 10 minutes. Add the cheese and black pepper and toss again.
2.Arrange the salad on a platter or four plates, top with the remaining crackers, and serve the lemon wedges on the side.
Chia Caesar Dressing
Makes 2/3 cup
1/3 cup Chia Gel (recipe below)
2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard, regular or spicy
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
In a blender, puree all the ingredients together until smooth. Adjust the seasoning. Use immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Makes slightly more than one cup
Whisk together 1 cup of room-temperature purified water and 2 tablespoons of black or white chia seeds. Let stand for at least 20 minutes. Use immediately or store well covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It's ok to double this recipe, if desired.
Excerpted from Chia Vitality by Janie Hoffman Copyright (c) 2014 by Janie Hoffman. Excerpted by permission of Harmony, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.