Chia seeds are produced on Salvia Hispanic plants, a member of the mint family native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala.
Low in calories but high in nutrients, these power packed seeds have 2.5 times more protein than beans, 6 times more calcium than milk, 8 times more omega-3 than salmon, 3 times more iron than spinach and (drumroll) 15 times more magnesium than broccoli. Small wonder chia seeds were a staple food for the Aztecs and Mayens. In the Mayen language “chia” means “strength”while Aztecs nicknamed it “running food” because messengers could run all day on just a handful of its seeds.
Chia seeds make a healthy replacement for eggs in your favourite baking recipe. To make one “chia egg” simply mix 15 ml (1 tbsp) of chia seeds with 45 ml (3 tbsp) water and let sit to gel for about five minutes.
Crazily enough, Chia seeds first gained popularity in many parts of the world as pets. Because of their quick and thick germination they could be soaked, slathered on clay figures in the shape of heads or animals, and when frequently misted, would quickly form a mat of “hair” or “fur”. If you are of a certain age you might remember a commercial for Chia Pets with the catchy jingle “ch-ch-chia!”.
Chia plants can grow to heights of over 1 to 1.5 meters (4 to 5 feet) and are well suited to hot, dry climates. They produce pretty blue flowers that attract pollinators, but also have the ability to self pollinate. If you are interested in growing your own chia seeds check out this informative article.