All You Need to Know: Chia Seeds

Chia seeds: they're a daily staple around the pollen + grace HQ nowadays, as I'm sure they are for a lot of you too. But we've not always been so familiar with them, and I'm pretty sure we're not the only ones to have had the 'tasteless frog spawn' experience. In fact, for a couple of us, after an initial experience of just chia seeds and water or milk, we avoided them for a good couple of years. 

Luckily nowadays we've cracked it, enough so to pot it up and sell it to the public, but it does lead us to wonder if there's maybe still some people out there avoiding the frog spawn, or wondering how to get it more 'thick and creamy' and less 'sort of frog spawn with a hint of vanilla' (trust us, it took us a while too). 

So this is our definitive guide to chia seeds. Why you should eat them, how you should eat them and their infinite possibilities aside from chia pudding. 

WHAT ARE THEY?

Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica, related to the mint plant. The grow natively in South America, and were previously an important food source for the Aztecs and Mayans before making their 21st century comeback. 

'Chia' is actually the ancient Mayan word for strength, and the prized them for the sustainable energy they provided. 

When added to water, they absorb it and expand, making a goo-like substance (sounds delicious huh?)

HEALTH BENEFITS 

1. The first and foremost, chia seeds work as a great detoxing agent, basically sweeping through your gut and collecting all the bad build up on the way due to their absorbing texture. They're the perfect breakfast on those days when you're feeling a little 'full' eg. those days you could probably tub your stomach and get a seat on the tube. 

2. They are rich in protein, fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, with 11g of fibre, 4g of protein and 5g of omega-3 fats per tablespoon... to put this in to comparison, there's is approx. 7g of protein in the same amount of chicken breast, making chia seeds a great way for veggies to up their protein levels. 

3. They're great for staying full! Because they absorb water and expand in your stomach, this should increase fullness, and keep the hunger at bay until lunch time. 

HOW DO I USE THEM? 

Now most people know how to use chia seeds nowadays: 1 tbsp per 3 tbsp of liquid, add in some sweetener + flavourings, leave to set, top with fruit, eat. 

But how do you turn it from palatable breakfast to delicious, life changing treat? Or even more so, how do you get 'haters of the healthy' to enjoy chia pudding? There's a couple tricks... 

1. Banana. Is there anything banana can't do, seriously? We found that adding mashed banana to your chia mix before leaving it to set is the simplest way to end up with a thick, rich pudding rather than goo. So simple, so good and no need for extra sweetener!

2. Blend your chia seeds. Again, so simple, but blending your chia seeds before adding the liquid leaves a smooth paste rather than traditional chia pudding. Lower the liquid content slightly, add some cacao and you'll have something sort of similar to chocolate mousse for breakfast. 

And how about chia seeds and their many other uses? It definitely doesn't just stop at chia pudding! 

1. Egg replacements. As well as flaxseed, chia seeds can be used as a vegan egg replacement in baking. We didn't really see the point in this, not being vegan, but then we made chocolate brownies with chia eggs... oh my, their gooey, brownie level was so much better - we're converted. 

2. Granola. We have a fail proof granola recipe that uses the mix of chia + water to hold the granola together in chunks, which calls for much less oil in the mix. Making our uncontrollable granola snacking a much more healthy obsession. 

3. A salad sprinkle. When they can be used in so many other things, I think people forget that chia seeds are also delicious sprinkled on top of salads, smoothies, porridge.. just about anything. The perfect, easy way to get in that protein, fibre and omega-3 fats!