What is crunchy, black or white, and full of fiber?
The chia seed is a super food and one of the healthiest seeds in the world. It also makes for an interesting ingredient, although most people don’t know how to cook with it. Betsy’s Best features chia seeds in all of our gourmet nut and seed butters because it offers a satisfying crunch, increased fiber, protein, omega 3 fatty acid and calcium. Yes, you could buy a chia pet and grow green hair, but that is a waste of a perfectly balanced seed full of nutrients.
The chia seed can do so much more!
The most interesting fact about chia is that no other seed can do what the chia has the capacity to do. It absorbs up to 12 times its weight in water, so when water is added to dry chia the seed expands just like a balloon. The clear gelatinous outer coating is the chia soaking up the water and retaining it within its walls. When the chia is hydrated, it turns an insoluble fibrous seed into a soluble fiber seed. Soluble fiber acts like a gel and slows gut digestion, which is why the chia seed is touted as a weight loss and appetite suppressant—it keeps you full!
Many athletes swear by chia seeds because of the water balloon effect. Also, the additional water supplied and held by the chia helps keep an athlete hydrated during endurance performances.
When it comes to cooking, here’s a quick crash course on how to include chia in your everyday dishes. The trick is to think of chia as a starch. Add it to sauces, gravy, dressings, pudding, smoothies, or anything you want to thicken. Using the chia seed whole offers a tapioca pearl effect; grinding the chia into a meal allows you to use it just as you would use any starch.
This functional food ingredient offers your meal more filling fiber, more protein, more calcium, more omega 3 fatty acids, and calcium to boot. There’s only one question to ask: Why wouldn’t you use chia?!
Now that you know the benefits of chia seeds, discover all the incredible ways to use this savvy seed. Here is one of Betsy’s favorite chia seed recipes for you to enjoy!
Blueberry Chia Seed Jam
- 3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- 3-4 tbsp pure maple syrup, to taste (or other liquid sweetener)
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
In a medium-sized non-stick pot, bring the blueberries and 3 tbsp of maple syrup to a low boil. Stir frequently, and reduce heat to low-medium to simmer for about 5 minutes. Lightly mash the blueberries with a potato masher or fork, leaving some for texture.
Stir in the chia seeds until thoroughly combined and cook the mixture down until it thickens to your desired consistency, or about 15 minutes. Stir frequently so it doesn’t stick to the pot.
Once the jam is thick, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Add more maple syrup to taste if desired. Enjoy with your favorite Betsy’s Best Gourmet Nut Butter. The jam should keep for at least a week in an air-tight container in the fridge.