When I first heard of chia seeds I immediately thought of my college archaeology classes where I learned that chia was a staple food for prehistoric people. I thought that it couldn’t be the same stuff, but it actually is! Chia is an ancient seed that has been cultivated on multiple continents and was used in many ways. It could be ground into flour, mixed in drinks, and pressed for oil. It was even used as medicine and in religious rituals.
Today, scientists have shown that Chia is a valuable addition to our meals. They are high in omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, calcium, zinc, and phosphorus. Two tablespoons provide 4 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber with only 140 calories. Chia seeds are a complete protein, which means that they contain all 9 essential amino acids needed by our body.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, research has shown that chia can reduce cholesterol, slows digestion and reduces blood sugar spikes. Additionally, studies have shown that chia can increase the feeling of fullness leading to weight loss when used with a healthy diet and exercise.
All that said, they still have a funny texture that resembles tapioca. I happen to love tapioca but I know other people who can’t get over the texture. You just have to try it and see how much chia you can handle. I love chia jam and pudding, but I don’t like it floating in my drinks.
Speaking of Chia Jam. Did you know it is super easy to make, tastes delicious and has minimal or no added sugar? Regular jam is made by combining equal amounts of fruit puree and white sugar, which helps in the gelling process. In chia jam, the seeds to all the gelling so there is no sugar needed unless you want yours to be sweet.
I am trying to increase the amount of protein in my diet without adding a bunch of meat, saturated fat, or sodium so this weekend I went chia crazy. I made three different chia jams and several puddings, which I will blog later this week. All of them turned out amazing but I particularly love the raspberry jam. Last night we made a gluten-free vanilla cake and I spread a thick layer of the raspberry jam on top and it was AMAZING! Way better than frosting and it only had a tiny bit of sweetener in it, instead of several cups of sugar.
If you haven’t tried chia yet this jam is the perfect introduction. The fruit is the star here so make sure you pick a brand with a lot of flavor. Costco has fantastic organic frozen fruit that I love to use because its packed with flavor and is super cheap!
Chia Seed Jam
Makes 1-1.5 cups of Jam
- 1-2 cups of frozen berries or 1 cup berry puree
- 3 tablespoons of chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon of honey, maple syrup, agave or other sweeteners (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of lemonade, just enough to help the berries blend smoothly
- Blend the berries and lemonade together in a blender until smooth. Measure out one cup and pour into a medium-sized bowl.
- Add the honey or maple syrup and stir until blended.
- Add the chia seeds and stir until completely combined.
- Allow the chia jam to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Then stir, package in a small jar and enjoy on ice cream, toast, cake, or right out of the jar!