December 17, 2012

Veggie Fact of the Day

I've been attempting to hit 60 new veggies this year and I think I have a pretty good chance of hitting that magic number before the end of the year ;-). Today, I tried Chia Seeds in my morning smoothie, making it New Veggie #59. Like most people, I'd only heard of Chia seeds in the context of those (in)famous Chia Pets before I started on my plant-based journey. I often wondered what people did with those little ceramic animals after the fur-like sprouts were dead?

Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant called Salvia, a member of the mint family. Dating back to ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures, Chia literally means 'strength' and according to ancient wisdom, the seeds are an energy booster. The seeds contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium. The flavor is mild, somewhat nutty, with just a slight crunch to them. They are easily added to foods and beverages and can be eaten unprocessed, sprinkled on cereal, sauces, vegetables and rice. Soaking the seeds for 8-10 minutes produces a gel which can be used to thicken puddings and desserts. Because the antioxidant content of Chia seeds is higher than any known whole food, even blueberries, a lot of dietitians recommend a daily dose of Chia seeds.  Because Chia seeds expand in water, they do the same in the stomach and are said to serve as an appetite suppressant. Chia seeds are rich in Calcium and the high protein and fat content is said to provide a steady energy supply. This is due again to the gelling action of the seed, with its unique combination of soluble and insoluble fiber combine to help control blood sugar. Once in the intestine, similar to psyllium husks, the swelling action of Chia helps to cleanse and soothe the colon, and absorb toxins while helping move things along. Chia seeds are also a remedy for constipation. Unlike flax seeds, which tend to go rancid when stored for a prolonged period, Chia seeds, with their rich antioxidant content, last forever. 

So how did I use Chia seeds today? I added a tablespoon to my morning Spinach Smoothie. It was a tad unusual initially but after the first few sips I liked the little crunch the seeds added to my drink. And I did think I was full for a longer time this morning than I usually am after drinking my smoothie. I think a tablespoon of Chia will definitely be making its way into my smoothie every morning. 

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