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can you smoke chia seeds

Can you smoke chia seeds

Chia seeds are no longer reserved for growing “hair” on pots shaped like Obama’s head. As it turns out, they’re actually packed with nutrients and are easy to add to everyday foods.

What are chia seeds?
The seeds come from a plant in the mint family known as Salvia hispanica that is grown in its native Mexico and Guatemala, as well as Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, and Australia. No, you cannot smoke said plant for a trippy, hallucinogenic experience — you’re thinking of Salvia divinorum — so please don’t attempt to smoke chia seeds.

Eating Salvia hispanica seeds is not a new concept. The brown, gray, black, and white oval-shaped seeds were eaten back in the day — like way back in the day — by Aztecs. They’re smaller than flaxseeds and, unlike flaxseeds, can be stored for years without losing flavor or nutritional value. Because their flavor is so mild, they can be added to just about any food.

Nutritional benefits of chia seeds
Chia seeds yield 25 percent to 30 percent extractable oil, which explains their high amount of omega-3 fatty acids — fats that are known to reduce inflammation and help reduce the risk of heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. In fact, they contain more fiber and omega-3 fats than flax or other grain seeds. One tablespoon yields only 46 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates, so many people trying to lose weight add it to water for a low-calorie full feeling that lasts throughout the day.

Unlike flaxseeds, you don’t need to grind chia seeds to obtain their nutrients, which also include calcium, phosphorus, antioxidants called tocopherols, and manganese. At least one study has suggested that the consumption of chia seeds could help diabetics control their blood sugar and protect their hearts, though more research is needed to confirm these results.

Like quinoa, brown rice, and whole-wheat options, chia seeds are an excellent substitute for refined grains like white bread and white rice. These whole grains can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, among other conditions.

But what am I supposed to do with them?
You can snack on whole, raw chia seeds all you want or add them to water, like we previously noted. If you add them to water, juices, or tea and wait about 10 or 15 minutes, the seeds will start to take on a thicker, gelatinous texture that you can consume in that form or add to sauces and salad dressings.

Because of the way the seeds gel in liquid, they’re frequently used as a thickening agent and are even used as an egg substitute in some recipes. Try making porridge by grinding the seeds and mixing them with hot milk, or create your own homemade jam or jelly by mixing the seeds with puréed fruit and a little sugar. After about 30 minutes, the mixture will be ready to spread on toast.

If you’re not a fan of the gelatinous texture, try just sprinkling the seeds on oatmeal, adding them to meat marinades and burgers, or mixing them into casseroles, potato salad, or even pasta dishes. Or stir them into yogurt, cottage cheese, or pudding. The seeds are also enjoyable when they’re just sprinkled in salads and on sandwiches or used in a stir-fry. If you’re a smoothie-lover, try blending about 1/8 cup of the seeds with the rest of your usual ingredients in a blender. You won’t even notice them.

It’s also not uncommon for chia seeds to be ground and used in baked goods like breads, cakes, and biscuits. These cranberry chia muffins from The Dr. Oz Show are a great example.

Where to find them
You can find chia seeds online or in the health food section of most large supermarkets.

More From HellaWella:

A ch-ch-cheat sheet to how to eat these healthy seeds

Chia Seeds: They’re Not Just for Pottery Pets Any More

by Michele R. Berman, MD March 13, 2012

You can just hear the commercial: “Ch-ch-ch-chia!”

The terracotta animal figures who grow green-sprout “hair” were first produced in 1977. The original Chia Pet was in the shape of a ram, but now there are over 30 different varieties, including one of President Obama (right).

Since 2007, it is estimated that over 500,000 Chia Pets are sold each year! But lately, those tiny chia seeds are finding a new niche, that of a superfood!

Food of the Aztec Warrior

Chia, botanical name Salvia hispanica, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family. It is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala, and was cultivated by the Aztecs in pre-Columbian times.

It was considered an important crop, perhaps even as important as maize. It was part of the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors. They believed chia seeds imparted high energy, endurance and good health. The seeds also were used by the Aztecs as offerings in religious rituals, which caused them to be banned after the Spanish conquest.

Note: This is not the same kind of salvia which achieved notoriety when pop singer Miley Cyrus was caught smoking a hallucinogen called Salvia divinorum.

Marathon Runners Love it Too!

So What’s So Good About Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds can be called a total nutritional powerhouse.

Chia seeds are a complete protein source, meaning that they have all of the essential amino acids in an appropriate balance. They are about one-fourth protein (4 grams/serving), higher than many other seeds and grains. One serving size includes 18 percent of recommended daily calcium, is a great source of potassium and is low in cholesterol and sodium.

And even more, they have an extremely high concentration of omega-3 acids — even more than salmon! Omega-3’s can promote heart health and decrease triglyceride levels.

They are also thought to play an important role in reducing inflammation throughout the body. James (Jim) E. Scheer, in his book, The Magic of Chia: Revival of an Ancient Wonder Food notes that chia is high in fiber and is easily digested. The seeds absorb many times their weight in water to form a gel.

The outer layer of chia seeds is rich in mucilloid soluble fiber. This mucilloid is intended to keep the seeds from drying out in the arid desert air. When chia seeds are mixed with water or stomach juices, a gel forms that creates a physical barrier between the carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down. The carbohydrates are digested eventually, but at a slow and uniform rate. There is no insulin surge or spike needed to lower the blood sugar level after eating chia.

Bring on the Celebrity Endorsements.

Ready to Try Chia? Here’s a Recipe!

Pumpkin Chia Seed Muffins (per Dr. Oz on Oprah)

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon chia seeds, ground (use a coffee or spice grinder)
1 cup whole wheat or whole grain flour
1/2 cup white unbleached flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (16 ounces) organic pumpkin (make sure there is only pumpkin listed on the ingredient list)
2 eggs
1/4 cup high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup pure maple syrup or 1/2 cup agave nectar or a combination of the two
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350°. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix all wet ingredients. Fold the wet ingredients (fold in nuts now if you are using them) into the dry ingredients and spoon into paper-lined muffin or greased muffin tins. Bake for 25–30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Store completely cooled muffins in resealable plastic bags in the freezer.

Have you ever tried chia seeds? Are you a runner who uses them? Have you ever recommended them to your patients?

Chia Seeds: They’re Not Just for Pottery Pets Any More by Michele R. Berman, MD March 13, 2012 You can just hear the commercial: “Ch-ch-ch-chia!” The terracotta animal figures who grow