Remember your Chia Pets? What do they have in common with the Chia seeds? They are the same!
February 28, 2013 - Author: Diana Hassan, Michigan State University Extension
Remember the Chia Pet planters commercial: Ch-Ch-Ch Chia? Well, Chia is back, but this time in an edible form.
The Chia seed has a rich history behind it that goes back over a thousand years ago, when it was used in the diets of ancient Mayans and Aztecs. Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language. Aztec warriors used the chia seed to boost energy and increase stamina.
Chia seed has an abundance of nutritional value. It is rich in antioxidants, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, niacin and zinc. Unlike flaxseed, chia seed does not have to be ground before eaten to make their nutrients available to the body. When chia seeds are soaked in water for 30 minutes, the seeds swell and a gel starts to form because of the high fiber content. Studies suggest that this pathway occurs in the stomach, as well as slowing down the digestion and breakdown of carbohydrates, and promoting fullness for a longer period of time.
Chia has a nutty flavor and goes well in salads, side dishes and desserts. You can sprinkle chia seeds on cereal, yogurt, add them to smoothies, or even use them in your baked goods. You can also use chia seeds as a substitute for eggs by mixing one tablespoon of chia seeds, to six tablespoons of water, to make chia gel. One tablespoon of chia gel replaces one large egg.
So what about snacking on those Chia Pet seeds you might have around? Michigan State University Extension says this is not a good idea! Chia Pet seeds do not go through the same FDA approval process as the ones being sold for eating.