Much to Do With Chia!

Chia has become the next “superfood” with growing popularity among men, women, athletes, and dieters. Yet many people are still unsure how to even consume chia.

Chia is of particular interest to anyone looking for a natural, high-nutrition, low-calorie, energy-sustaining food source. By weight, whole chia seed contains 33 percent fiber, 20 percent protein, about five times the calcium of milk, and more omega-3 than salmon. It is a good source of antioxidants and minerals including iron, zinc, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. It is also gluten-free. An ounce of chia seeds has less than 140 calories.

As chia seeds readily absorb water, they can expand to help the stomach feel full, curbing appetite. Due to chia’s highly soluble fiber content, it forms a gel that can slow sugar absorption into the bloodstream, making it low on the glycemic index scale. This can help maintain energy and limit hunger by reducing blood sugar spikes after a meal.

Chia may be a superfood, but it is also relatively tasteless, even bland. So how do you make chia delicious?

When water is added to chia, a sticky gel is formed around the seed as it swells—that can be unappetizing in texture to some, much like tapioca. To make chia more palatable, it is often mixed with juice, applesauce, yogurt, or cottage cheese. It can also be added to soups, sauces, smoothies, puddings, and cereals as a thickening agent, and can be used as an egg replacement in baked goods. However, for today’s on-the-go consumer, incorporating chia into the daily diet can still be a challenge.

Many companies sell plain chia, yet only a few foods such as energy bars contain chia (and only as a lesser ingredient). There is only one ready-to-eat food high in chia content on the market to date—a breakfast cereal/snack called Chia Goodness.

“Customers kept buying the plain chia and then would ask, ‘Now what should I do with it?’” says Ruth Shamai, President of Ruth’s Foods and creator of Chia Goodness. Shamai imagined chia as a perfect ingredient for a raw cereal because of its texture after water is added, which is similar to oatmeal.

Shamai decided to add other raw ingredients to add taste and texture to her proprietary breakfast cereal/snack formula that includes raw buckwheat, hulled hempseed, and Celtic sea salt. Chia Goodness comes in four flavors: original, dark chocolate, cranberry ginger, and apple almond cinnamon. //$8, 12 oz, ruthsfoods.com