Yes, believe it or not chia. It for more than chia pets! (Make sure you get chia that is food-safe and not the kind for the novelty pets that have been treated with chemicals. This kind is not edible) Chia is a seed from a plant called Salvia hispanica. Both the Aztec and Mayan peoples ate chia seeds, as they believe that they provided energy. It is loaded with fiber and also contains iron, calcium, protein, and potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc. It contains the antioxidants chlorogenic and caffeic acids.
Chia is also very rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Unlike flaxseed chia does not need to be ground to utilize its nutrients. It also does not go rancid like flax seed. For breast cancer survivors one of the biggest advantages is that Chia does not contain estrogen or any phytoestrogens. These compounds are found in flaxseed, which makes chia a great flaxseed alternative. The subject of plant-based estrogens and estrogen-receptive cancer is a controversial topic. Some people believe that plant-like estrogen compounds mimic estrogen in the body and can encourage growth of estrogen receptive cancer. Others say that this type of estrogen actually levels out estrogen levels in the body. I error on the side of caution and avoid flaxseed and limit my intake of other plant estrogens based on the advice from my doctor. Be sure to consult your doctor prior to making any dietary changes if you have ever had cancer.
Chia also has the ability to soak many times their weight in water. It turns into a gel that runners use to thicken smoothies and provide energy. It is also used as an egg substitute in baking. Chia is also gluten free, so it has become very popular in gluten-free cooking for people with celiac disease. It’s extremely versatile and can be put into pretty much anything from pancakes to salads to cookies. You can also sprinkle it on your yogurt of cereal. Chia can be purchased from your local health food store or organic type grocery chain like Whole Foods. I purchased mine from the bulk section of Whole Foods, but it can also be found in the health and vitamin section of the store. I am just beginning to experiment with chia seed, so if anyone has any ideas or recipes to share please contact me.
Fruit and Nut Bites, Adapted from Whole Living recipe
- 2 cups mixed dried fruit ( I used medjool dates, apricots, and cranberries)
- 2 cups raw mixed nuts and seeds ( I used chia seeds (2 tablespoons), walnuts, pecans, and pine nuts)
- Coarse salt
- 1/3 cup raw sesame seeds
- In a food processor, pulse dried fruit; transfer to a bowl.
- Pulse nuts and seeds until finely chopped and add to dried fruit with a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
- Knead together and form 1-inch balls; roll each ball in sesame seeds.