Chia is often found growing on sunny hillsides, disturbed fields, prairies, and plains throughout the West and often after fires. This member of the sage family (Salvia columbariae) is very aromatic and worth growing. Chia will grow anywhere from 6- 24 inches tall and will have as many as 5 flower heads per stalk. The leaves are opposite, mostly basal and up to 4 inches long.
Seeds of this plant and the related species, S. mexicana, were an important food to the Indians and early settlers. These seeds are not only nutritious but easily digested. Some Indian tribes believed that a tablespoon of chia seed would give a warrior enough energy to go on a 24-hour forced march. When moistened, the seeds become mucilaginous and can be used to calm an upset stomach or made into poultices for topical wounds. If placed under the eyelid before retiring, this will help clean dirt from the eyes.
I think chia seeds are one of the most nutritious foods known to man, and besides providing an enormous amount of energy, they are high in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and calcium. These seeds are a good option for a child or adolescent, the pregnant women, vegetarian, or athletes and weight lifters who need that extra protein in their diet.
So what to do with all these Chia seeds you wonder? Well, Chia can be eaten raw, sprouted, roasted, or ground as a mush or as flour for bread. I mix them into meat loaf, breads and smoothies. One of my favorite ways to use them though is as a popular drink in Mexico called Agua de chia or Chia Seed Water. Here a great recipe to try at home.
Agua de Chia
- 1 cup chia seeds
- 2 quarts pure water
- 1 cup raw sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh lime or lemon juice, or to taste
- A sprinkling of powdered cinnamon
1. Soak chia seeds in water until they soften and take on a spongy consistency.
2. Sweeten the 2 quarts of water with the sugar, stirring to dissolve, and add the chia seeds and citrus juice.
2. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve chilled.
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Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Jessica Morgan, M. H., Morgan Botanicals.
Disclaimer - The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information in this article for self-diagnosis or to replace any prescriptive medication. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem, suffer from allergies, are pregnant or nursing.
Jessica Morgan, M.H.