THE CHIA SEED:
A new, old and raw alternative
BY BLYTHE METZ PHOTOS BY CARLA CUMMINGS
The chia seed is an exceptionally nutritious and versatile food. This small black seed, tops the charts for
foods with high levels of bioavailable omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, magnesium and more.
By itself, the seed is generally flavorless but when
mixed with water, it becomes a gel-like substance that
can be dressed up or down. Given that it is packed with
power and nutrition, chia seeds are an easy ingredient
to add to recipes to as a base for tasty and nutritious
meals. Chances are that with time, you may even develop a special taste for the raw seed.
Chia seeds are no newcomer to the field. As early as
3,500 BCE, chia seeds were a significant part of the
diet of the indigenous peoples in Central America, particularly the Aztecs and Mayans. The Aztecs used chia
seeds as a grain, or mixed it with water for a beverage.
In addition, these potent seeds were used to prevent infections and stimulate healing when used as the base
of a poultice for application on wounds and injuries.
Chia was used medicinally to treat constipation, sore
throats, and colds and was even offered to the gods in
religious rituals. For all these reasons, it became valuable enough to be traded as currency.
As the Aztecs well understood, chia seeds (because of
their mucilaginous fiber content) help keep our digestive tracts functioning optimally. With proper digestion
and assimilation of nutrients, we sleep better, shed unnecessary weight, and feel physically and emotionally
lighter, partly because we are not weighed down by undigested food in the colon.
It is believed that the chia seed disappeared from popular use for a time partly because the European conquest of the Americas suppressed many of the agricultural and religious practices of the Aztecs. Luckily, and
perhaps due to the raw and natural food movement,
the seed is making a comeback. From savory chia seed
sandwich wraps to chia popsicles, the rediscovery of
this nutritious staple crop is surely transforming tum-mies across the country.
See recipes on following page…