Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia! I have very fond memories of the adorably lame Chia Pets – which apparently you can still purchase in even more creatively-formed sculptures, like Barack Obama and Scooby Doo!
But now, Chia has a more health-related meaning to me, thanks to Chia Seeds, which offer a range of health benefits. I actually don’t know if you can harvest the seeds from the plant shaped like our current president, but you can definitely buy them at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods for the awesome benefits.
Chia seeds are known to:
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- Provide protein – in higher percentages than other seeds and grains
- Contain antioxidants
- Add fiber to your diet
- Provide a heaping portion of Omegas – 1 tbsp of the stuff has 2.9g Omega-3, and 1g Omega-6
- Stabilize blood sugar
Because Chia seeds do not have a strong flavor – they are just slightly nutty tasting – they can be added into meals and snacks you already eat to give you all of the health benefits without major impact to the food. You can sprinkle them in yogurt, add them to smoothies, or top a salad with them.
Here, though, I made the Chia Seeds the main event. This recipe was adapted from the one on the back of my Chia Seed packet, and couldn’t be easier! With this pudding, the Chia seeds soak up the coconut milk, expanding into little bubbles that give the pudding the consistency of tapioca. This can be eaten as a dessert or snack – but to be honest, it’s probably going to be my breakfast tomorrow! Hey, at least it’s not ice cream…
1/4 cup Chia Seeds
1 cup coconut milk
3 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tbsp honey
- Combine all ingredients, stirring well.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until pudding is thick and Chia seeds have expanded.
Resources: What’s Cooking America, EatRight.org
The idea of protein shakes used to make me cringe: I would mix a bit of powder into milk with a spoon and it never fully dissolved, which would inevitably lead to sips with clumps of powder. Yuck.
But I have come around to protein shakes, thanks to some important tricks:
1) Get yourself an immersion blender: Blending your drink ensures that the powder is fully dissolved, and using a handheld immersion blender means that you don’t need to take out, dismantle and clean your blender each morning – just stick this hand blender in the cup you’re going to drink out of. Easy! I use one similar to this one on Amazon.
2) Add peanut butter: Using peanut butter covers any unpleasant taste from the protein powder – and you only need a little to get the job done. A banana helps too.
3) Keep it cold: Add some ice to your drink – a room temperature shake is not as appealing as an ice cold one.
My standard base recipe is below. You can also add other ingredients that you have around the kitchen, like strawberries, mango, some yogurt – mix it up! I use both whey protein powder and hemp protein powder, which has a slightly grittier texture, but you can use any protein powder you prefer.
Peanut Butter Banana Protein Shake
6-8 ounces of almond milk (you can use regular milk if you prefer)
1 banana, in pieces
1-2 tsp. creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp. whey protein powder
1 tbsp. hemp protein powder
Combine ingredients in your cup. Use immersion blender to mix, about one minute. Throw in a handful of ice (remember tip number 3), and you are good to go!