In the last two years I have learned to love chia seeds, which I had previously considered “out there” food.  If you haven’t tried them, don’t knock them yet; but be weary….using them can go wrong if you’re not careful.

My mom and dad drink smoothies EVERY morning for breakfast and the ingredient list includes, among other things, chia seeds. Unfortunately, although the smoothies are really tasty; if you don’t drink them almost immediately they thicken A LOT…I mean sooooo THICK you could spackle cracks in plaster with the contents of the glass.  You see, chia seeds can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water (which forms a bulky gel).  And when you grind them (as in put them in a smoothie in the blender) they seem to gel a lot more quickly.

So, why use them?  The ability to absorb so much liquids has at least two benefits: (1) they can help keep you hydrated, and (2) they can keep you feeling full longer!  They are also easy to hide in recipes – I’ve sprinkled them on oatmeal and in salads, added them to baked goods, mixed them into smoothies (after pouring the smoothie out of the blender), added them to bread crumbs when coating or topping recipes, etc.   They are quite versatile.

What are chia seeds?  I know you’ve heard of Chia Pets (the original is shaped like a sheep) and have seen a myriad of chia products over the years, including Chia Mickey Mouse, Chia presidents, Chia Hello Kitty, Chia Mr. T., Chia Homer Simpson, and most recently Chia Willie from Duck Dynasty.  That’s what chia seeds are – they are the seeds you soak in water and spread on the terra cotta figurine. But beyond that, they are edible seeds that date back to Mayan and Aztec cultures, where they were a staple food.  They are unprocessed and considered a whole-grain food.  Unlike flax seeds (which I also hide in recipes), can be absorbed by the body.

I am not a doctor, so I will not go into all of the health benefits of chia seeds because I cannot back up any statement I might make with scientific fact, but if you google “chia seeds” you will find more than 5 million hits.  I would highly recommend you rely on the information you find on reputable sites only and that before modifying your diet with chia seeds or anything I or other non-physician/non-nutritionist bloggers recommend, you discuss the changes with your doctor.

So, what can you do with chia seeds?  The possibilities are endless, but I really enjoyed this post from BuzzFeed Food.

Additionally, some recipes I’ve developed and love are:

If you try any of my recipes, please let me know how they turn out!!!

We had a revised version of the black bean and red lentil sliders for dinner last night and they were so yummy!  We had to revise them because we didn’t have black beans – so we used red beans.  And we made them burger sized instead of slider sized.  Remember – recipes are just guidelines (unless you’re baking)!!!

So, chia seeds – I would encourage you to give these little seeds a try.  As with all new things, you have to keep an open mind and possibly try them more than once before you develop a taste for them or learn to hide them in delicious recipes for your own good!

I know, the Chia Pet may have given chia seeds a bit of a bad reputation; but chia seeds aren’t only for entertainment value.  They’re good and good for you!!!