Thousands of years ago, chia seed was a staple in the diets of ancient Mayans and Aztecs. The word chia is derived from the Mayan language, meaning “strength,” and Aztec warriors relied on chia seed to boost energy and increase stamina. Today this tiny seed is a favorite of athletes, especially distance runners, who tout it as an endurance enhancing superfood.
Chia seed contains a wealth of fiber: 5 grams in just one tablespoon. It is the fiber in chia that causes chia seed to swell when combined with water, creating chia gel. Whether you eat chia gel or just the raw seeds, the hydrophilic action of chia seed will keep you full longer than many other seeds. Amazingly, chia gel can also be used as a substitute for eggs in many baked goods. Use a 1 to 6 ratio of chia seeds to water to make chia gel. Use approximately one tablespoon of chia gel to replace one large egg in your baked goods.
The mild, nutty flavor of chia seed goes well with both sweet and savory dishes. Use chia seed in puddings and smoothies, sprinkle on top of porridge and salads, and add to baked goods in place of flaxseed meal or poppy seeds. Try our recipe for chia fresca (video below), a refreshing drink perfect for a hot summer day in place of lemonade, or use it as pre- or post-workout fuel. Looking for a foolproof way to get chia into your diet? Make our blueberry refrigerator jam (recipe on the bag)! The gelling nature of chia makes it an ideal (and nutritious) substitute for pectin in jam. No matter the dish, you can increase the nutritional value of any meal with a sprinkle of chia seed.