Did you know that chia seeds are edible? Yes, those things you used to grow on little terra cotta animals to make adorable green, bushy critters like this:

(Photo source: Amazon.com)

Did you also know that they are one of the oft-unsung superfoods? Blueberries, sweet potatoes, and kale have had their day in the sun, but chia is a food that I only recently learned was even edible thanks to the wonderful world of healthy living blogs! My first taste of chia was a chia cocktail done by Drink Chia Now! at the Healthy Living Summit, and I was skeptical of it at first. And by skeptical, I really mean that I was in a room full of strangers and hoping to catch a buzz to optimize my social skills, but wasn’t able to with the two small chia-strawberry-vodka drinks I downed with the free drink tickets. I blamed the chia, the damned chia! but it wasn’t the little black seeds’ fault.

I kept thinking about chia seeds last time I was at my local Earthfare doing the usual bulk item stock up and decided to get about a cup’s worth, not knowing what I would do with them or even what their benefits were, yet still getting them anyway because YAY for experimentation, right? Right!So after all of that excitement they sat in the pantry for about three weeks before I even decided to Google and learn about their benefits and to see how others used them. The information I found about their health benefits blew my mind. In particular, the benefits it has on slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugars, which helps to maintain a stable (and healthy!) blood sugar level were of particular interest to me. The benefits it imparts to runners are also fascinating- it is supposed to up your endurance levels and was used by the ancient Indians to heal all kinds of various ailments.

So how did I use chia for my maiden at-home voyage? I went with the classic (LOL because everrrryyone does it) recipe of 1/3 cup chia seeds mixed into 2 cups of water. Mix thoroughly and let sit for at least 10 minutes.

It really does gel up, and it results in a goo that in similar in texture to a runny raspberry jam with seeds. It does look kind of oddly gross, but its completely tasteless when they are soaked in water. I tried a bite of them on a spoon, and then decided to get them in my body in a much tastier way- chocolate pudding! Ho’ made, of course.

Can you see the gel-iness in this photo? It’s fascinating to play with. But more importantly, this pudding is delicious with or without the seeds, but if you’re going to be eating it anyway, why not get punched in the guts with a ton of nutrition, and possibly bring your running game up a level? Oh and so you don’t think I’m totally weird and gross, I mixed the seeds into my pudding. Mix thoroughly to avoid eating a big clump of chia seeds.

See, virtually undetectable!

I’ve mentioned my favorite Moosewood cookbook here before, so I figured it was high time I link to it. This really is one of my number one favorite cookbooks. I still have a ton of recipes flagged that I haven’t even had time to try yet.

I’m so glad I made that pudding yesterday though so that I could experiment with chia. If you’re wondering how it helped with my running, well… I usually only go for 25 minutes (including warm up and cool down) but yesterday about an hour after eating the chia chocolate pudding, I ended up running for a little over 40 minutes including my warm up and cool down. I don’t know if I should credit that to the chia or to the lovely fall weather we had this weekend, but either way, I am a convert! I’ll be experimenting with more ways to include chia gel into my everyday life, and I am thinking my daily yogurt will be the next victim.

Have you tried chia seeds before? Any stories, recipes, testimonials?