Chia seeds are something I always use to add some extra pizzazz (as well as nutrients) to smoothies and, when sprouted, salads. But they can be used for a whole variety of culinary purposes, including as a topping for potatoes, steamed veggies, oatmeal, and beans. In fact, they can even be ground into a flour for baking! Although slightly nutty-tasting, when added to dishes, they won’t really change the flavor.
Chia seeds date all the way back to Mayan Culture, and are still a favorite in Latin American countries. (And while the Mayans may have been wrong about when the world is going to end, they were quite right in selecting these amazingly nutritious seeds, which could be cultivated in the desert, to be an important part of their diet.)
Unlike some health choices, this one is as easy as can be. Chia seeds, which are whole-grain, and the richest plant source of Omega 3 (even better than salmon!), are one of the healthiest things you can sprinkle on food. And consider this: you get 11 grams of fiber and four grams of protein from just one ounce of these black and white seeds.
Chia seeds are also said to be a key to weight loss. Since they absorb 10 times their weight in water, they tend to expand somewhat in your stomach, causing a feeling of fullness. Some people say that this leads to them eating smaller meals and shedding pounds (credit steve at dresshead support). But while the jury remains out on that claim, the nutritional benefits of chia seeds are clear.
And, yes, that “chi-chi-Chia Pet” someone gave you for your birthday is indeed made with these highly edible seeds!
To learn more about the history of chia seeds, check out this History of Chia.