Superfood Profile : Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are an amazing superfood, especially for athletes. As athletes, we strive to achieve optimal endurance and strength, proper hydration, and muscle building and repair.  Chia seeds can help you attain all of these.

The tiny black and white seeds come from an ancient plant used for its nutritional benefits and medicinal uses.  The seeds were used by the Incans, Mayans and Aztecs and were considered a magical seed, providing strength and stamina over long periods of times.  The running messengers relied heavily on them, carrying a small pouch around to provide sustainable energy on their long journeys. The word “Chia” is actually the Mayan word for strength.

As scientists and researchers are realizing the lack of certain key nutrients in the Standard American Diet (SAD), they are turning to history for natural solutions.  There has been much research over the past few years on the powerful nutritional benefits of the chia seed.

Chia seeds are rich in trace minerals, vitamins, fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants and much more. They have a rich concentration of essential fatty acids, with an almost perfect ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 for healthy tissue and muscle maintenance and repair. Chia seeds are considered to be hydrophilic, meaning they absorb large amounts of water quickly (10x their weight). Thus, they are great enhancers of hydration, as well as promoters of electrolyte balance-  key elements for peak  performance.  Chia seeds are a great pre-workout superfood for the obvious endurance and hydrating benefits.

In addition, they contain large amounts of calcium, potassium and iron. These are essential vitamins and minerals that are lost through sweat and muscle contraction, making chia seeds a great post- workout and restorative snack as well. They are easily absorbed and digested, resulting in quick transportation and utilization of the tissues and cells. Chia seeds also contain protein, also essential for post-workout recovery –  aiding in muscle building and repair.

I’ve touched most of the benefits this powerful little seed has to offer. You can see why these are a great addition to any diet – especially for athletes and those looking to improve stamina and performance.  Try for yourself first hand and start reaping the benefits of this mighty little seed!

How to incorporate chia seeds:

  • Put 1 tsp in glass of water and stir. Allow to sit for about ten minutes. Sip pre- or post- workout.
  • In a seal tight container, add ¼ cup chia seeds to 1 cup water. Refrigerate overnight. This will form chia ‘gel’ which is great for smoothies and yogurt parfaits.
  • Add to any of your favorite granola, granola bar, or overnight oats recipes.
  • Make chia seed pudding (recipe below).

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 Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

2-3 cups almond milk (could also use coconut milk or soy milk)
¾ cup chia seeds
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp. maple syrup or agave

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl
  • Stir for about 1-2 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken
  • Stir every 5-10 minutes over an hour
  • Can be stored in the fridge or eaten immediately
  • Serve plain or topped with fruit and whipped cream
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The many reasons to eat Butternust Squash right now

We really don’t need another reason to eat butternut squash other than it’s creamy, buttery texture and comforting goodness. However, we can happily add to the list with the abundance of nutritional benefits and vitamins and minerals butternut squash has to offer.

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Health Benefits: Butternut squash is naturally low in fat and contains high amounts of folate and fiber- a great heart healthy food! (The fiber helping to you feel fuller longer and aid in digestion as well). It contains Vitamin B6, which is essential for a properly functioning nervous and immune system. Butternut squash is high in potassium, which helps to regulate water retention and also improves bone health.

The most noteworthy benefit is obvious in its deep orange coloring. This rich color signifies the ample amount of nutrients called carotenoids, which are big protectors against heart disease and promote eye health. It is also high in Vitamin C- helping to keep that immune system in top shape. Just one cup has 1/3 the daily dietary needs of Vitamin C. Its high antioxidant count contributes to its anti-cancer properties as well as helping to maintain that youthful glow we all strive for.

Last but not least is its anti-inflammatory benefits. Many of us have inflammation in the body that manifests in different ways. Some of the obvious are joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and many other -itis diagnosis. We all could use anti-inflammatory foods to help balance and protect against those that cause inflammation from packaged and processed foods.

How to chose: Look for those free of bruises and blemishes as well as one with a matte finish as well as shiny (not ripe enough). Check to feel the weight and aim to buy one that is heavy for it’s size. Store in a cool dry place, do not refrigerate.

How to prepare: There are numerous ways to prepare butternut squash. You can cut the squash in half length wise using a large chef knife. Scrape out the seeds, lay flesh side up on a baking sheet or pan. You can fill with 1/4-1/2 inch water to prevent from burning the bottom. Brush with coconut oil, butter or another high heat oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and your favorite spices. I bake mine on 400 for about 45-1 hr, or until soft when pierced with a fork. You can cut width-wise and carefully remove skin with a sharp chef knife (be careful!) Cut into cubes and roast, steam, or saute. You can also cut into round rings and then again into half moons, baking on high heat. Another option is to pierce the squash whole with a knife, and bake until soft, about an hour. Cut in half and scrape out skin, removing seeds.

Check back soon for my Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage + Apple soup recipe I have been selling like crazy at The Galley.