If you are anything like me, a commercial jingle rings through your head when you hear “ch-ch-ch-chia.” For those who haven’t been thrown back to your childhood, that commercial advertised Chia Pets. You would spread chia seeds on a creepy pottery figure, watered it, and “hair” grew. While I have never enjoyed growing my own Chia Pet, I have found chia seeds to be amazingly helpful for my health.

Chia seeds are an easy way to add fiber, calcium, iron, and all-important omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Because they can be added to so many foods they are easy to add into your diet. You can add a teaspoon or 3 to supercharge your oatmeal, or throw a tablespoon into a smoothie to add the benefits of salmon without the fishy taste. My favorite chia recipe (see below), as far as taste, is coffee chia pudding.

When I run my triathlons, I make my own chia energy gels. I read about a tribe who could run for insane distances without stopping in Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. The runners were fueled mainly by chia seeds. Based on that, I found an easy recipe for a gel that I feel helps provide me energy without messing with my stomach the way commercial gels did.

Add some thawed peaches, and this off-season, vanilla cream gel will be breakfast on the go tomorrow!

Running is not the only way that chia seeds have helped me feel better. I coach baseball, which requires me to throw between 100 and 200 pitches a day for batting practice. That used to wreck me for the next day. After adding “chia jello” (recipe below) to my lunch, I can now throw day after day and can still move my arm the next day. In fact, I can throw more in my 40’s than I did in my 20’s. The fatty acids have really helped my arm to stay in shape and not fall off – which is a good thing if you have to throw batting practice every day.

Whether you throw it in your recipes, or grow on some pottery, chia seeds pack an amazing punch. This relatively inexpensive seed brings a great value, both cost-wise and nutrient-wise, to your kitchen – speaking from experience.

Coffee Chia Pudding

1/2 cup coffee
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 heaping tablespoon of nut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup chia seeds

Blend all but the chia seeds. Stir in chia and let sit 15 minutes.

Chia Jello

My “chia jello” consists of one tablespoon of chia seeds, a few drops of flavored stevia, and 3 – 4 Tbsp. water. I leave it sit in my lunch bag and by lunchtime, it has turned into a gelatin-like shot.

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