In an effort to overhaul my current diet I have been doing some research on healthier options for breakfast and snacks throughout the day. I'm just not a "shake" person. Purely liquid diets do nothing for me personally and I'm not actually looking to diet... I'm just looking to eat in a healthier way (and hopefully the benefits of that will result in a healthier body, especially when added to a more consistent exercise regimen).
It's a known fact that fiber does many things.... Fiber swells in your stomach like a sponge, which increases feelings of fullness and promotes weight loss. It also significantly lowers the risk for developing coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases, as documented from a paper published by Nutrition Review. Health benefits of dietary fiber - PubMed (nih.gov)
Chia seeds (which we all know from the early 80s with our "Cha-Cha-Cha Chia" Pets, are an incredible source of dietary fiber.
25-grams fiber/day for women and 35-grams fiber/day for men is the optimal amount of fiber intake per the Mayo Clinic.
2 tablespoons of Chia seeds have approx.:
4 grams of protein
9 grams of unsaturated fat (loaded with omega-3 fatty acids)
12-grams of carbohydrates
11-grams of fiber.
More Chia facts:
*They are gluten-free
*Rich in antioxidants
*Contain anti-aging effects mimicking collagen (healthier hair, skin, and nails)
*Chia gel (3 tablespoons of seeds left overnight in 1 cup of water) can replace butter when baking.
*They have no flavor BUT they magnify the taste of what they are added to.
*15x more magnesium than broccoli
*7x more vitamin C than oranges
*5x more calcium than milk
*Balances blood sugar
(Healthy fats, protein, and fiber.... all in a tiny seed....)
The word "Chia" actually translates to the word "Strength" from the Ancient Mayan language. Even they knew the powerful properties this tiny nutrient holds.
I will add 2 tablespoons of dry chia seeds to a cup of yogurt. I love the crunch. Just make sure you smile into a mirror before Facetiming with your boss or friends. "Chia-teeth" is not an attractive look.
Each Chia seed eventually swells to 13x its original size when mixed with a liquid. This explains why these seeds are so filling. They take up a ton of space in your stomach, thus reducing hunger.
Chia pudding (or "overnight Chia" it is also referred to as) is absolutely delicious and super easy to make. Combine 3 tablespoons of seeds per 1 cup of your favorite liquid. I prefer oat or almond milk, but any liquid (including water or juice) will work. The sky is the limit with the variations of flavor.
Mix the seeds, the liquid of your choice, plus any other flavor ingredients you choose, then shake or stir well, and store overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning you will have a soft, super nutritious and filling pudding. It has the same consistency of a tapioca pudding.
Look, I am no health nut. I'm an Italian mother whose favorite foods include pasta, pizza, and red wine, but as I am getting older, it has become increasingly obvious how important it is to reel in those giant gluttonous meals. Our metabolisms are slowing down, and we either need to expend more energy or consume less calories to maintain both a healthy weight and cardiovascular system. I won't give anything up that I love. I will just eat them less and try to make smarter choices along the way. Although I don't feel like I'm making any kind of sacrifice here because I love the way these seeds can create so many delicious snacks.
My favorite combinations of Chia are below...
3 tablespoons of Chia seeds and 1 cup of oat or almond milk refrigerated overnight. Spoon into a bowl and top with raspberry yogurt and some sliced almonds (see above).
3 tablespoons of Chia seeds, 1 cup of oat or almond milk, and 1 tablespoon of Hershy's chocolate syrup, mixed and refrigerated overnight. It tastes like chocolate pudding. (See above)
3 tablespoons of Chia seeds, 1 cup of oat or almond milk, 1 teaspoon of honey, and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or just the honey alone is wonderful), mixed well then refrigerated overnight. (see above).
3 tablespoons of Chia seeds, 1 cup of oat or almond milk, and 1 teaspoon of real maple syrup and refrigerated overnight. Once in a bowl, top with a tiny bit of maple syrup and some sliced almonds.
As you can see, the variations are endless.... use your imagination....
Chia soaked in cranberry juice topped with pomegranate seeds and vanilla yogurt with edible flowers (see above)
Chia soaked in a mixed berry juice, served with strawberries and raspberries (see above)
And for those like me that enjoy the savory side..... Chia pudding with avocado and marinated tomatoes (see above)