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Our Adventures With Chia Seeds

On a cold, snowy, snow day off from school, a mom decided to conduct a little science experiment with any willing children in the house at the moment.  The mom?  Me.  The willing children?  Mine and a few neighborhood kids.  I started off with a package of chia seeds with the idea of testing some recipes because I believe that this will be the Year of the Chia Seed.  It's a bold statement, I know, but it is time to expand our horizons and move on from last year's Year of Quinoa.  Of course, you remember the year before that was the Year of Kale.  (No?  Just go with it.)  This is the Year of the Chia Seed because it is a multi-talented seed.  Not only can it grow hair on a terracotta bust of a man, but it it a good source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber when ingested.  On to the experiments...

I started with the very traditional Chia Fresca, a drink meant to rehydrate on a hot day (not this day) or after a strenuous workout (unfortunately, not this day either).  Most of the recipes for Chia Fresca include a sweetener, but I prefer my beverages unsweetened, so I kept it simple:

Chia Fresca

Serves 1

2 cups water

juice from 1/4 lime

1 1/2 Tablespoons chia seeds

Mix in a glass.  Let sit for 15 minutes.  Drink.

Simple as that.  When chia seeds mix with a liquid, they absorb it and the coating on the seed becomes gelatinous, making them easy to swallow (think tomato seed without the acidic taste).  Speaking of taste, they don't really have one.  They take on the flavor of whatever they are added to.  And the best part?  At 70 calories per tablespoon, they pack a powerful nutrition punch AND fill you up!

I made a Chia Fresca and left it on the counter.  When the kids came up from the basement with their friends, they wanted to know what was in the glass.  I told them, "chia seeds."  The response varied from, "Oh, my mom drinks those!" (Way to go Heather R.) to "No, they are not, those are bugs." (my kid), and "Are those the same seeds that are used to grow hair on the Chia pets?  Will I grow hair in my belly?"  (My kid again).  All but one were willing to try the cold beverage.  The reaction was surprising; they didn't mind the texture after a few sips.  We chatted about the benefits of chia seeds (always a nutrition lesson at the Rosen house!) and they wanted to experiment further.  They wanted hot chocolate, because, after all, it was a snow day, and they wanted to put the seeds in it and see what happened and how it tasted.  We added a teaspoon to each eight-ounce mug - not enough to thicken the drink into a pudding, but enough that they had the texture (and the protein!).  The seeds soaked up the hot liquid much more quickly than the cold liquid, so the gelatinous texture was formed almost immediately.  And to my surprise, they drained those cups, seeds and all.

Later that day, I tried the hot chia seed drink by adding it to my tea.  Not only was it fun to drink, but it really filled me up!  Chock full of protein, fiber and antioxidants AND it's filling?  I don't like to call any one food a "super food" but I think we have a winner!

I wanted to do some experimenting of my own, so I came up with a pudding recipe and put it to chill.  What I discovered was that although Chia Fresca tastes fine unsweetened, Chia Pudding does not.  Back to the drawing board!  I promise to share it as soon as I perfect it.  In the meantime, I will continue to drink my chia seeds.  How about you?  Have you tried them?  Will you try them now that you know that even kids like them?  Share your thoughts and your chia seed stories with me!

Head over to Goodness Gracious Living for more!

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