"Ch-ch-ch-chia!" Do you remember that famous jingle? Chia pets were extremely popular during the '80s and '90s. The terra-cotta animals are spread with chia seeds that over time sprout and create a green, grass-like carpet of fur. The company that began making the pets in just animal shapes, continues to release new shapes and products to this day. You can find chia pets shaped like Bart and Homer Simpson, Mr. T and even Barack Obama.
But did you know that the seeds used for chia pets are actually edible? Chia seeds have been cultivated since Aztec times. They are still grown and eaten in South America, from Mexico all the way down to Argentina. Now chia seeds are even grown in Australia, which has become the foremost producer.
Image courtesy of little blue hen, Flickr.
How To Eat Them
Chia (Salvia hispanica) can be eaten raw as whole seeds. It can also be ground for use as a flour in baking, similar to ground flax. The seeds can be added to porridges, puddings, juice drinks, teas, and smoothies -- the seeds turn gelatinous when they come in contact with water. Sprouted, chia can be added to salads and sandwiches, similar to alfalfa.
Many people eat chia for its nutritional benefits. Athletes like them because they're packed with fiber, which means it keeps them fuller longer and provides more energy. Chia seeds also have a small percentage of protein; many essential vitamins and minerals, like potassium and calcium; and a very high amount of omega-3. The seeds actually do contain extracteable oil, a reason why the Aztecs called the seeds chian or oily.
Watch the videos below to learn more about chia and try the breakfast porridge recipe.
Would you ever eat chia? Let us know in the comments.
Learn the health benefits of chia seeds in your diet:
Learn how to make a Chia Breakfast Porridge: