Smoothies are one of my favorite ways to cool off in the summer and enjoy a healthy delicious treat. My homemade smoothies taste like dessert, but with the right ingredients, they can be super nutritious as well.
For the next few weeks, I'm going to share with you how I amp up my smoothies with nutritious powerhouses, starting today with chia seeds.
Chia seeds are an ancient food. It was regularly consumed by the Mayans and Aztecs. Take a look at the back of any package of the tiny seeds and you'll find that those guys were onto something good.
One tiny little tablespoon of chia seeds has 150% of your recommended daily value (DV) of Omega-3s
and 4 grams of dietary fiber (16% DV).
And all of this comes in a tiny , (mostly) tasteless, easy-to-digest seed. Some people describe the flavor as "nutty", but I can't taste them at all. Also, unlike flax seeds, you don't have to ground them to reap the nutritional benefits. While our bodies can't absorb the benefits of whole flax seeds, we have no problem digesting whole chia seeds.
Chia seeds are super tiny (only slightly larger than a poppy seed) and can be mixed into all sorts of foods you already eat, like yogurt, oatmeal, or a bowl of cereal and milk. It can be be sprinkled on the inside of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, sprinkled on top of buttered toast, or added to baked goods. You can really get creative with these little guys, but if I'm going to sprinkle them on my food, I typically put them on something a bit sticky so they don't end up coating my plate instead of my stomach.
However, my very favorite way to enjoy chia seeds is in a smoothie. Here's a recipe to get you started.
LEMON BASIL SMOOTHIE (serves 1)
This light and refreshing smoothie is the perfect summer treat.
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup skim milk (or milk of choice)
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1/4 cup (tightly packed) fresh basil
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 cup low fat or fat free vanilla yogurt*
4 pieces of ice
Blend all ingredients well in a blender and enjoy immediately.
*May substitute 1/2 cup plain or Greek yogurt plus 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, then sweeten to taste with sweetener of choice. May also substitute with one scoop of your favorite vanilla protein powder.
Some tips for eating/using chia seeds:
- When making smoothies, blend all of your ingredients, except for the chia seeds, then add the chia seeds and blend again. This keeps the seeds from sticking to the sides of the blender.
- Chia seeds do not need to be refrigerated and will keep in a sealed container for up to two years (unlike flax seeds which may go rancid).
- Check your teeth after eating chia seeds. The tend to stick around for a while if you don't floss or brush afterwards.
In Charlotte, you can purchase chia seeds at Earth Fare, Healthy Home Market, Berry Brook Farms, The Natural Marketplace, Talley's Green Grocery, or you can purchase them online from most natural food websites or even Amazon.com