Superfood Sunday: Why I heart chia seeds

 

Welcome to the first post in the series of ‘Superfood Sunday’! Every Sunday I will share with you a new superfood, discuss its amazing health benefits and provide a simple recipe which incorporates that superfood.

So what are superfoods?

You’ve probably heard a lot about superfoods lately… you know all those amazing foods that will help you live until your 150?! Well, not quite. When I talk about ‘superfoods’ I’m referring to mother earths foods that contain a proportionately higher number of unique properties, nutrients, vitamins and minerals than your average food. So anything from fruits, vegetables, seeds and herbs – but you don’t have to go scouring the Amazonian jungles to find it! By adding these to your diet, you really will be able to achieve optimal health.

 

Today, it’s all about chia seeds. Chia is a tiny little seed that is nutrient-rich and packed full of goodness. It looks similar to a poppy seed and comes in black & white. Nutritionally they are very similar – there is no proven benefit for either colour, so you can mix it up! Its rich nutritional profile makes it a valuable addition to any diet, including vegetarians and vegans.

 

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Here are my top 10 reasons of why I absolutely love chia seeds:

  1. High in omega-3 fatty acids: they are one of the world’s richest plant-based sources of Omega-3 and have eight times more Omega 3 than salmon (by weight). Aside from being important for optimum health, Omega 3 fatty acids are one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory compounds in nature, as well as being great for the brain.
  2. Protein, protein, protein: one 28-gram serving (1.5 Tbs) of these super seeds has 4.4 grams of protein, nearly 10 per cent of the RDI. They are also a complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids – to provide repair and nourishment to your body’s cells, muscles and tissues.
  3. Great for digestion: they contain high amounts of soluble and insoluble fibre, making it great for digestion and healing digestive issues (such as Crohn’s and Colitis).
  4. Antioxidants: super high in antioxidants (they have 4 times higher ORAC value than blueberries).
  5. Iron and magnesium: chia has 3 times more iron than spinach, and 15 times more magnesium than broccoli (by weight)!
  6. Calcium (and dairy-free!): just 1 serving of chia seeds has 18 per cent of the recommended daily intake for calcium, and contains around 6 times more calcium than milk (by weight) – and is more readily absorbed by the body than milk! This puts you well on your way to maintaining bone and oral health, and preventing osteoporosis.
  7. Gluten-free: need I say more? See my previous post here on why to go gluten-free.
  8. Vegan friendly: can be used as a safe egg substitute by simply making a chia gel (see below).
  9. Stabilises blood sugar levels: they can slow digestion, regulate appetite and improve insulin sensitivity – which makes them perfect for anyone fighting belly fat, and particularly great for diabetics.
  10. Versatile: You can put them in everything from smoothies, juices, salads, muffins, stir fries – anything really!

The best way for your body to absorb chia is by soaking it in water first to make a chia gel, before you add it to other foods.

How to make chia gel:

Add 2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds to a cup of filtered water or coconut water. Let it sit for about ten minutes and you’ll have an incredible energy gel! It certainly beats the socks off any energy or sports drink for hydration and energy, with the additional benefit that it’s all natural!

 

Here is one of my favourite and simplest recipes using chia seeds!

 

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Chia Pudding Recipe

¼ cup chia seeds

1 cup almond milk (or rice milk)

¼ cup of fruit of your choice (I like blueberries and rasberries)

1 tsp cinnamon

few drops of stevia

sprinkle of hemp seeds and coconut flakes (to garnish)

Put all your ingredients in a small mason jar and stir it up! Top with a sprinkle of hemp seeds and coconut flakes. Put the jar in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Open and enjoy!

 

Tip: Make at night then put into the fridge for a grab-and-go breakfast in the morning, or take with you as an anytime snack.