Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) are a gluten-free grain that has become very popular in recent years. Cultivated by the Mayans and Aztecs since at least 1500BC for both medicinal and dietary purposes, these seeds provide a host of health benefits such as lowering LDL cholesterol levels, reducing inflammation, regulating bowel function and improving cognitive function.
Small but Mighty
Chia seeds are the richest plant source of dietary fibre and polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. They contain 34.4g of fibre per 100g, much higher than flax seeds (27.3g fibre/100g) and dried figs (9.8g fibre/100g). They also provide a complete source of protein (meaning that they contain all 9 essential amino acids that can’t be produced by the body) and contains higher levels of calcium, magnesium and potassium than milk.1
An Ayurvedic Take
Chia seeds are not found in any Ayurvedic classical books (they are after all from South America), but by applying Ayurvedic principles we can discern their qualities in Ayurvedic terms. Their taste is extremely mild – some describe it as almost indiscernible, others as slightly nutty or sweet. Once the seeds have been soaked, they become gelatinous in nature (high in water and earth elements) and have a cooling potency. Chia Seeds thus pacify Vata and Pitta, whilst increasing Kapha. They are therefore great to hydrate, nourish and cool.
Recipes using chia seeds usually make use of the fact that it absorbs 15 times its weight in water. It is commonly prepared as an easy pudding or breakfast by soaking the seeds in water in the fridge overnight. Ayurveda generally favours warm food because it is gentler on the digestion and promotes healthy Agni (digestive fire). In keeping with Ayurvedic principles, I have therefore created this warm breakfast option with added digestive herbs.
Warm Chia Seed Porridge
An original recipe by Colette Park.
- Combined prep & cooking time: 12 mins
- Serves 1
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or vegan milk of choice)
- ¼ tsp ground vanilla pods (or vanilla extract)
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- ¼ tsp cardamom powder
- ¼ tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp almond or cashew nut butter
- 3 tbs chia seeds
- 1 tbs pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbs sunflower seeds
Heat the milk, spices and nut butter over a low heat and stir for about 2-3 minutes, until fully mixed and the nut butter is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the chia seeds.
Leave for 10 minutes to allow the chia seeds to absorb the fluid and thicken.
Place back on low heat to gently warm for a few minutes, before topping with seeds and serving.
If you feel you need it sweeter, you can add ½ - 1 tsp of maple syrup.
1 Ullah, R et al. “Nutritional and therapeutic perspectives of Chia (Salvia hispanica L.): a review.” Journal of food science and technology vol. 53,4 (2016): 1750-8. doi:10.1007/s13197-015-1967-0