Lose Weight By Accident: The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds By Tanya McCausland of Home Cooked Healing Ch-ch-ch-chia! Sounds familiar doesn’t it? This ancient seed has been making a remarkable comeback. But this time it’s on our plates (rather than on a ceramic Sponge Bob figure). Chia seeds are tiny, edible seeds that comes from the plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. The word chia is the Mayan word for strength and it was a staple of ancient Incan, Mayan and Aztec diets. Specifically, it was used for strength, endurance and energy. We could all use some of that! Chia seeds contain more omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds and are a great source of fiber, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron and other important minerals that help you keep a svelte waistline. But what is especially great about chia seed is their ability to thicken and become gel-like when soaked in water or other liquids. This helps slow down the digestive process so you feel full longer so you’re less likely to reach for that late afternoon coffee and pastry. Because they are so high in antioxidants, chia seeds don’t have to be refrigerated like flax and other sensitive seeds. They will last months in your pantry without going bad. So, stock up on chia seeds! You can incorporate them easily by adding them to yogurt, oatmeal, salads or smoothies. If you want to take it up a notch, try my Creamy Chia Seed Pudding. It’s great for breakfast or a quick mid-day snack. Your waistline and taste buds will thank you! Creamy Chia Seed Pudding Ingredients: ¼ cup chia seeds ¼ cup unsweetened, shredded coconut 1 cup water ¼ cup raw cashews (soaked for one hour, rinsed and drained) 4 dates, pitted pinch of ground cloves 2 teaspoons real maple syrup (you can add more if you like more sweetness) ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon cinnamon Instructions: 1. Combine chia seeds and coconut in a bowl. Set aside. 2. Place the remaining ingredients in a food processor, blend until smooth. 3. Pour the blended cashew mixture into the bowl with the chia seeds and coconut. Stir until well combined. Wait a few minutes and then stir again. (The chia seeds will begin to get gelatinous and thicken the pudding). 4. Wait a few more minutes, stir again. Do the “wait and stir” 2-3 times. Then, place the pudding in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes. Enjoy! This pudding will keep in your fridge for about 2-3 days. About This Contributor: Tanya McCausland is a Health and Culinary Coach in Alameda, CA She inspires, encourages and motivates her clients to create a life of health and balance through delicious food and simple lifestyle changes. She believes that our kitchens have the ability to heal – we just have to stock our pantries with real food and not be afraid to wield a wooden spoon every so often!