Chia Couture

As far as I’m concerned, chia seeds are the new black: They go with just about everything. Sprinkled into smoothies, salads, muffins; roasted with kale or made into a delicious pudding, they are a no-fail nutritional accessory to any meal. And like a well-heeled fashionista, I have developed quite an obsession over this tiny seed, dreaming up new ways to pair it. Since I have been known to ruin a good thing by my excessive intake, I beg the question…how much is too much before I start sprouting it from my head? According to the ever-fabulous Joyce Rosenblum, co-owner and director of education at the Natural Kitchen Cooking School (www.naturalkitchenschool.com), no amount of the seed will make it emerge from my follicles and more likely, I would probably get sick of it before it gets sick of me (chia’s hydrophilic structure holds water, so when mixed with sauces, drinks, yogurt, dressings, jellies, hot cereal, dips, puddings, soups, etc., it displaces calories and fat without diluting flavor so you get satiated quickly). Most likely, sticking to a daily intake can keep me from getting sick. “Chia seeds are one of the best plant sources of Omega-3 oils, benefiting our brain and heart health. Any food that benefits the heart, benefits the entire body,” says Rosenblum. This is great news for vegans and anyone else worried about contaminants that may exist in omega-3 fish oils. In addition, chia seeds have significant amounts of caffeic acid (also found in cucumbers), which helps reduce swelling and inflammation. Rosenblum puts a scoop of chia seeds and 1/2 a cucumber into her daily smoothie for their heart, brain, and beauty boosting powers. I’ll have what she’s having.

So my yen for the seeds are thankfully not going to turn me into a Chia Pet anytime soon (a bummer for my daughter whose hobby is brushing hair), but a close friend with the same hankering posed another concern. Could her own inordinate consumption make her gain weight, much like eating too many nuts? (I’m glad someone asked before bathing suit season came up and bit me on my rotund backside.) The answer is, like all foods, it depends on how many calories you take in, versus how many calories you burn. Chia seeds are very low in calories but higher in fat. 55cal. for 1tbs., and 9g. of fat. Put another way, 1 ounce of chia uses 2.8 percent of the calories in a 2000 calorie diet. The full daily serving of 1 ounce only adds up to 139 calories. Even better, 1 ounce of chia seeds has a Glycemic Index of 1, so they won’t spike your blood sugar and cause your body to store fat. And, unlike a chain-eating need for nuts (I challenge any squirrel to a contest), chia seeds are made up of 90% water, which acts like an appetite governor to keep you (me) from eating them in excess. The daily recommendation (since we all could use parameters) is: in the gel form, 3 tablespoons, 3 times a day; and in the dry form, 1tbs. once a day, plus 1tsp, two x a day. (For making chia gel, 1/3 cup of seeds whisked with 2 cups water will last for three weeks in the fridge). When eating them dry, take with fluids for better assimilation. Low in calories and the kind of good fat that makes the body, brain and heart thrive? Three cheers for chia.

The beautiful Mrs. Rosenblum was my chef trainer in cooking school. But don't let her good looks fool you--she's tough! She made me finish all of my meals. Yum!

Joyce Rosenblum’s favorite pudding recipe by chef, author, and nutritionist Alex Jamieson

Chia Seed Pudding with Coconut & Vanilla

2 cups coconut, rice, or hemp milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons brown rice syrup or maple syrup

pinch sea salt

¼ cup chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

–       Heat the milk over medium in a small saucepan.

–       Whisk in the vanilla, brown rice syrup and sea salt.

–       Once the milk is almost to a simmer, whisk in the chia seeds and cinnamon. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes, or until the mixture gels up to a tapioca consistency.

–       Serve warm, at room temperature, or cool in the refrigerator. Serves 2-3.

A lovely chia pudding moments before it was devoured. (Raisins optional)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, if you are strapped for time but have chia on the brain, do what I do and have a healthy Snaque (www.theperfectsnaque.com).

And if you’re ever in need of some good chia ideas, check out this website–40 Ways To Use Chia Seeds (no guessing what they’re about).  http://www.chiaseedrecipes.com/40-ways-to-use-chia-seeds.php

Thank you CB for the chia inspiration. You’re a good seed.

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