Chia—Tiny but Mighty

Chia has the ideal balance of fatty acids we need for healthy joints, digestion, and brain function.

There is evidence that chia (pronounced ‘chee-ah’) was cultivated by the Aztec empire, rivaling corn in cultural and economic significance. These tiny seeds have a slight nutty flavor, are stunningly beautiful, and are versatile in nutrients and use.

I was first exposed to chia as a child in the form of an inane infomercial for Chia Pets. Luckily, this ancient superfood has regained some dignity since its debut sprouting green ‘hair’ on novelty terracotta statues. The past few years have seen an all-out chia revival, due partly to the constantly increasing demand for functional food with multiple health benefits.

Lauded for its high omega-3 content, chia has the ideal balance of fatty acids we need for healthy joints, digestion, and brain function.

It also contains all the essential amino acids needed for our bodies to use as a complete protein, making it a perfect ingredient for meal replacements and protein powders like Garden of Life Raw Meal found in your Co-op’s wellness department.

Other benefits include calcium, lots of fiber, and a variety of micronutrients.

Agriculture has kept up with our increase in chia consumption. Newly developed cultivars have increased production in the U.S. and abroad.

This is good news for fans of organic. Chia leaves produce a natural insect repellent and there are no major pests or diseases affecting chia crops, so organic farming comes naturally for the hearty chia plant.

I’ve been enjoying chia for years.

My pantry is never without a mason jar full of chia from the bulk department.

How to Use Chia Seeds

It is an easy option for adding nutrients and texture to my oatmeal or my favorite smoothie recipe. Today, chia is used in numerous products that you can find at the Co-op. I spent the last couple of weeks on a chi-adventure exploring the aisles and trying out everything I could find.

For breakfast I tried Qi’a Superfood from Nature’s Path Organic. Qi’a has only three ingredients; chia, hemp, and buckwheat. It is nutrient dense and filling. For a more decadent breakfast try Chia Plus gluten-free frozen waffles from Nature’s Path Organic.

GT’s Synergy Cherry Chia Kombucha is so good I’ve been drinking it every day. Chia seeds are hydrophilic, meaning they absorb twelve times their mass in water and develop a gel-like coating. When added to a drink such as kombucha, it takes on a pleasant jell-o like texture. (Side note: the gelatin quality of soaked chia also makes it an excellent egg replacement in baked goods.)

Hope you enjoy some chia soon, in whatever way you choose!