Cha-cha-cha-Chia Seeds!

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Can you believe those clay animals with the fast-growing ‘fur’ actually held a crazy nutritious secret all along? Chia seeds are the latest trend in super foods and for good reason. Dating back to the Mayans, the word Chia actually means ‘strength.’ And if they supplied Mayan warriors with enough energy to get through battle, I figured I should investigate. With all my kids, you know I need an energy boost!

These little guys are packed with protein, calcium, fiber and Omega 3. What does that mean for us? Energy, heart health and lower cholesterol – and since chia seed gel can be used as an egg/binding replacement, it’s good news for vegans and those with gluten allergies. And with all the ways you can use them – sprinkle on cereal, in smoothies, to thicken gravy, even as a drink, they’re easier to incorporate into your diet than you might think. Chia seeds don’t have much of a flavor and when you drink them, the texture is gelatinous with a bit of a crunch.

If the kids aren’t on board with drinking the seeds, introduce chia to your family with this Lemon Chia Seed Muffin recipe. Light, lemon-y and perfect for summer.

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 Ingredients:
 
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 lemons, both zest & juice
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons CHIA SEEDS

(if you really like the lemon flavor, add a dash or two of lemon extract)

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Combine sugar and lemon zest. Let the kids get in the mix by having them rub the sugar and lemon zest between their (hopefully clean!) fingers – this really releases the lemon-y fragrance. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a separate bowl, combine lemon juice, yogurt, eggs, vanilla, lemon extract (if using), oil and chia seeds. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and combine well. Better yet, get the kids to do the heavy lifting, or stirring in this case! Divide the mixture evenly into greased muffin tins. Bake for about 14 minutes or until slightly browned. This will make about 16 muffins.

To entice the kids even more, throw in some chocolate chips to the mix! You can also sprinkle some sugar and extra chia seeds on top of the muffins before baking for a sweet and crunchy topping.

And once the kiddos have done all that baking work, reward them with their very own homemade chia pet! All you need is a container, whichever shape you like, fill with dirt and sprinkle with chia seeds. Water and watch your creature get really hairy!

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A history lesson, a recipe and a new pet all in one afternoon – not bad for a little seed!

What’s the best Chia seed pet name your kids have come up with? And what’s the most interesting way you’ve found to use chia seeds in your recipes?

 

-Dean

 

 

Photo credit: Flickr/NotahipsterFlickr/LjguitarKelcies Kreations
Gourmet Dad
  • Smellis711

    I just tried chia seeds for the first time today in a smoothie made with oatmeal, yogurt, milk, orange juice, and strawberries. It was delicious and quite filling! I found the recipe here: http://www.theyummylife.com/Oatmeal_Smoothies

  • Lisa Broadley

    I love chia seeds!!
    Can you sub in regular yogurt for greek yogurt?

  • Dean McDermott

    Great question, Lisa – you CAN, but you’ll want to strain the regular yogurt through a cheesecloth first in order to make it as thick as Greek yogurt because the regular kind contains more water. :)

  • Dean McDermott

    Awesome, I’ll have to check it out – thank you!