Saturday, July 13, 2024

Superfood Spotlight: Chia Seeds

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Superfood Spotlight: Chia Seeds

This Superfood Spotlight we take a look at chia, the tiny seed that packs a powerful nutritional punch.

In today’s Superfood Spotlight, we take a closer look at chia seeds, and show you why good things come in small packages.

Traditional use and origin
Native to Mexico and dating back to ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations, chia’s superfood status has stood the test of time. According to many sources, the Mayan word chia translates to strength in English, which is appropriate due to chia’s high concentration of good-for-you ingredients.

For thousands of years chia seeds were a staple in the Aztec and Mayan diet. They were ground into flour, pressed for their oil, and drunk with water. However, after the Spanish conquest of North America, chia seeds became eclipsed by the traditional Spanish foods that were introduced.  

Nutritional benefits
Today chia seeds are once again getting the attention they deserve. They boast high concentrations of fibre, protein, and healthy omegas, as well as the minerals calcium, phosphorus, and manganese.

Recent studies have cited chia seeds as an effective means to boost plasma ALA and EPA omega-3 levels. Omega-3s have been shown to reduce inflammation and lower the risk of certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Further, omega-3s are excellent for brain and skin health, easing symptoms of depression, and aiding with weight loss.

Buying chia seeds
Pick up high quality chia seeds at your local natural health food store. Of course, look for organic chia seeds to avoid exposure to pesticides and other toxins.

Also, keep an eye out for new products coming out containing chia seeds, such as bread, cereal, and granola bars.

Eating chia seeds
Add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to your morning smoothie, bowl of yogourt, or glass of water. Alternatively, you can actually cook with chia seeds. Try out this recipe from Matthew Kadey’s “Salts of the Earth” article.

Chia-Crusted Tofu with Lime Salt
Chia seeds lend tofu a crunchy crust that is packed with fibre and omega fats. Serve with steamed kale sprinkled with fleur de sel.

3 Tbsp (45 mL) chia seeds
2/3 tsp (4 mL) kosher, grey, or pink salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground black pepper
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) cayenne pepper
Zest of 1 lime
1 package (375 g) firm tofu, drained
1 Tbsp (15 mL) toasted sesame oil
2 tsp (10 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

On plate, spread out chia seeds. Add salt, pepper, cayenne, and lime zest to small bowl and combine well. Mix salt mixture with chia seeds on plate.

Pat tofu dry with paper towel; slice in half lengthwise then into halves crosswise, so you have 4 pieces of tofu. Brush each side with sesame oil. Press each side into chia mixture to coat thoroughly.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and sear tofu blocks until crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side.

Serves 4.

Each serving contains: 199 calories; 16 g protein; 15 g total fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 6 g carbohydrates; 4 g fibre; 200 mg sodium

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