Chi-chi-chia! Are chia seeds a fad or a true health food?

Chi-chi-chia! Are chia seeds a fad or a true health food?

How in the world did we go from using chia seeds to grow green “fur” on Chia Pets to eating the seeds as a health food? Is this hype or are chia seeds really a health food?

In history, Mayan and Aztec cultures consumed chia seeds for their supernatural powers. I don’t know about supernatural powers, but I can speak for their nutritional power. They are small and mighty! Just one tablespoon of chia seeds pack in 6 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat (much of which is Omega-3)… all for only 80 calories.  WOW!

Why are fiber, protein, and omega-3 fat good for us?

The right kind of fiber – found in foods like Chia Seeds, supports our body’s waste removal systems. Dietary fiber can increase the size and weight of our poop! It can even soften stool. Chia Seeds are a healthy and natural fiber that can help you have healthy bowel movements regularly.

Protein is an essential part of a balanced diet because it provides the body with the building block, or amino acids, that are necessary for muscle and bone health and development. Having a tablespoon of Chia Seeds is a great way to get a dose of protein in a salad or a sandwich that may be lacking in protein. The average American should eat between 25 and 45 grams of protein each meal- depending on activity level.

Lastly, Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients for heart health! We need to protect our cardiovascular system and Chia Seeds provide a great source for Omega 3s that don’t taste like fish. Is anyone else over the fish oil burps? Get the Omega 3s you need and check the fish oil at the door. Omega 3s reduce blood pressure and triglycerides that can cause heart disease or strokes. I’ll take the tablespoon of chia seeds with that, please!

Let’s shine the light a little brighter on these nutrition qualities:

  • Chia contains soluble and insoluble fiber- making them a great aid for maintaining a healthy cholesterol level and digestive tract.
  • Chia seeds contain 3 grams of complete protein – meaning they contain all the essential amino acids. Three grams of protein may seem like a small amount but pair it with the 4g of protein in a tablespoon of almond butter or 1/2 cup of milk and you now have more protein than a large egg.
  • Chia seeds have an impressive amount of calcium as well!

Wait, there’s more! The dry seeds deliver more antioxidants than blueberries.

First of all, what are antioxidants? We hear antioxidants a lot in today’s diet news but what do they really do?

Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation – which is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals in the body. Free radicals have been associated with Cancer because they cause damage to cells in our body over time. Antioxidants like those found in Chia Seeds can work to reduce free radical reactions, allowing our body to live in proper homeostasis.

When it comes to Chia Seeds, the ORAC value (antioxidant level) almost doubles when the seeds are soaked overnight. How? Because when you soak them, it initiates the early stages of sprouting, and that creates more bioavailable nutrients. (So cool!) Ideally, you would soak your seeds in water or a plant-based milk.

You’ll notice white and black chia seeds are available. White seeds have fewer antioxidants than black seeds but still contain more than most foods. Some people prefer white seeds because they aren’t as noticeable in baked goods and smoothies. Given that some variety of Chia Seeds are black, it is easy to spot them in yogurt, or on a salad, but in a smoothie or baked good they tend to blend in with other seeds or the color of the baked good making them less obvious and adding great nutritional value to your snacks.

Chia seeds have a very mild nutty flavor that won’t be noticed in smoothies or baked goods too, making it easier for some to eat. They can be crunchy if they are dry, so baking or soaking allows the seeds to become soft. These components add to the ease of enjoyment when adding them into your daily meals. That mild flavor goes well in smoothies, yogurt, cereal and even makes a great pudding-like treat.

So it turns out these trendy seeds are truly a health food! They are versatile, user-friendly, exceptional and a unique low-calorie source of omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, antioxidants, complete protein, iron, calcium, and magnesium.

How do you enjoy chia seeds?

Kristen’s Friday Favorites

Kristen’s Friday Favorites

Hey, everyone! I hope your week went well! I recently read in Parents magazine that 31 % of women say prep time remains the number one challenge to cooking weekday dinner. Are you among those women? I know I am! The next greatest hurdle is clean up. Weeknights can be so challenging! So, what can we do? Throw in the towel? Nope. Today I share some resources to help us get over these hurdles.

Favorite blog for meal prep ideas: Sweet Peas and Saffron

I am really digging how each month, she picks a type of meal prep recipe and shares seven different varieties with you. Like this one below, marinated chicken 7 ways.

7 Chicken Marinade Recipes You Can Freeze. Get a head start on dinner prep by getting your chicken into a marinade! Seven flavors so you'll never get bored.

Favorite way to save on clean up time: Sheet Pan Dinners like these shared by Cooking Light.


Sheet Pan Honey Soy Salmon Dinner

That’s it! Short and sweet this week.

What do you do to save time on food prep and clean up! Share your secrets in the comment below.

Kristen’s Friday Favorites

Lucy’s Friday Favorites


Local charity: Activate Good

Activate Good is located in Raleigh and offers volunteer opportunities around the Triangle. That are affiliated with hundreds of local nonprofit organizations to provide volunteers for the local charity events and programs. 

 Mark your calendar for April 23-29, which is national volunteer week!


Favorite TED talk: You are what you think

I love TED talks! This one spoke to me because of the touching story and the wonderful message explaining how our spoken and unspoken words lead to actions that lead to our destiny. Powerful stuff. 

Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 10.06.42 AM

Daily Mindfulness blog: Daily Om

“All too often our lives can be spread too thin and it becomes important to gather our thoughts and center ourselves to become whole again.” -Madison Taylor 

Sign up to receive these free inspiring emails:

Recipe of the week: Roasted Beets ‘n Sweets Beets and sweets

If you don’t think you like beets, I am guessing you have not tried them roasted. This is a simple, delicious, and nutritious side dish (or dessert if you’re weird like me!).

You’ve been challenged | whole grains and heart health – part 2

You’ve been challenged | whole grains and heart health – part 2

In honor of Heart Health month, every Wednesday in February we are talking about whole grains because of their connection to good heart health. If you missed the first post do check out: Not all carbs are bad: whole grains and heart health part 1 

Last week I challenged the notion that all carbs were bad and should be avoided. It is just not true. Whole grains have powerful health benefits and it is not just because of the fiber. They contain various phytochemicals that protect and fight against heart disease and diabetes.

There are many whole grain options to choose from. So, don’t limit yourself to whole wheat bread, crackers, and cereal. I CHALLENGE YOU to try something new and less processed. Pick any of the following grains to try this weekend. Notice there are 7 gluten-free whole grains below for those who need to avoid gluten for health reasons.


What do I eat it with? The easiest way, in my opinion, to start eating new whole grains is to prepare them plain and add then use them as a base for a salad or a “power bowl.” Start with a 1/2 cup to 1 cup of whole grains in a bowl and then top with your favorite veggies and protein. Lastly, drizzle with a dressing and voila! Simple and delish!

Here are 17 different ideas to get you thinking of the perfect combination for your taste buds.

Next step: post in the comments or send me an email ([email protected]) to let me know what you tried and how you like it!


Kristen’s Friday Favorites

Lucy’s Friday Favorites!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Favorite hiking trail in the triangle: Company Mill Loop at Umstead Park Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 5.53.57 PM

If you’ve been following, you already know I’m addicted to walking, hiking, and playing in the woods! It’s probably my favorite pastime and often where I get inspired to write these lovely blog posts. About 7 years ago I was introduced to Umstead State Park and quickly adopted the Company Mill Loop as my “training hike” for backpacking excursions. This trail is moderate in difficulty with some beautiful views along the water. The entire loop is 5.8 miles, so be sure to bring plenty of water and maybe a well-balanced snack. 

Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 5.29.24 PMNew Favorite app: Happy Scale

I have to admit something, I’m not really an app person; however, this one is worth sharing! A wonderful client of mine brought it to my attention and here’s why does what they say about their free product:  

“Happy Scale will use fancy math behind the scenes to give you insights into how quickly you’re losing weight and when you’ll achieve your goals!

Also, you know that feeling of disappointment when you step on the scale and discover that in spite of how hard you worked, your weight barely changed? Well, Happy Scale will help you change your relationship with the scale because you’ll see your trend line moving down, slowly but surely, even when your scale won’t budge.”

We already know one of the easiest things you can do for weight loss is to step on the scale daily. Now you can add Happy Scale to your toolbox! 

Favorite whole grain: quinoa! 

Quinoa is my favorite no-plan-nutritious-meal base. I make a quinoa bowl by heating the pre-made whole grain and topping it with whatever leftover or steamer veggies are in the freezer. Then comes the protein! That may be a piece of fish, 2 fried eggs, chicken, or cheese.  

Favorite quinoa recipe: A Delicious Kale-Quinoa Bowl in 20-minutesScreen Shot 2017-01-27 at 5.43.18 PM

This vegetable-lover dish can be enjoyed by the meat eaters in your family as a nutrient-packed side dish to accompany any baked, grilled, or slow-cooked creation.


Photo credit: Izy Hossack of Top with Cinnamon