Chia seeds have hit the big time in the last little while, yet another ‘superfood’ in the lineup being praised by health professionals and everyday eaters alike. These little seeds, which are also known as Salvia Hispanica, were revered by the Aztec, Mayan, and Inca people. They regarded the seed as a high energy food, and warriors often carried the seeds and ate them to keep their strength up.
With a history like that, it’s no surprise that chia seeds are getting quite a reputation. But we’re here to enlighten you about their present, not their past. So, what’s so great about chia seeds anyway?
The thing that people love about chia seeds, and certainly what newcomers to this superfood trend are happy with, is that chia seeds are very easy to get hold of, easy to prepare, and have a mild taste. Their growing popularity mean they’re available in a high quality form online, and making them really is as easy as ‘just add water’. In terms of taste, the seeds have a minimal taste overall, which mean they can be mixed, blended and added to other foods with ease.
Nutritionally, there’s a lot more to love about chia seeds. Don’t let their miniature size fool you, these little seeds pack one serious nutritional punch.
In fact, chia seeds are:
Energy Giving: We aren’t talking about energy like downing a few cans of taurine and chemical laced energy drinks. We mean natural energy, energy that lasts. Chia seeds contain twice as much potassium as bananas, which gives a sustained energy release that won’t leave you feeling low.
Protein Packed: Chia seeds have a higher percentage of protein than any other grain, and the protein is very easily absorbed and digestible. This makes it great for vegetarians and vegans, but it can be beneficial to any diet, with all 19 essential amino acids contained within.
Overflowing with Omega 3: Chia seeds are the richest natural source of Omega 3, which combined with the balance of Omega 6 in the seed can help to improve brain function and mood. The Omega oils are important for vitamin absorbtion, and the health of your vital organs.
Wild for Weight loss: Chia seeds initially started to gain popularity due to their reputation as a great dieting good. The seeds bulk up other foods as they expand, but their mild taste doesn’t hinder the flavour. This means that they’re very filling, encouraging you to eat less, while still feeling very full.
The best part is, that is just the beginning. There are more and more studies being conducted, and more professionals paying attention to this seed, and its potential is amazing!
For many people, the best thing about chia seeds is the ease in which they can be added to the diet. The seeds, as they have minimal flavour, can be added to almost any meal or beverage. They can be used to bulk up soups, improve smoothies and even replace eggs in baking recipes. Basically, they’re about as flexible as they are nutritionally amazing.
It can be hard when new ‘superfoods’ come into popularity to figure out what really is good for you, and what is just another case of bandwagon syndrome. We were initially cautious with chia seeds, but after reading up on them and incorporating them into our diets we have to admit to the facts.
Chia seeds might well be one of the few superfoods that deserve the title.
Over the last decade or so, there has been a growing number of people switching to a vegetarian diet. This diet, once limited to social outliers and the ‘hippie’ movement, has been fully embraced by many, both in Australia and around the world.
Followers of the vegetarian diet are quick to point out the benefits of the diet compared to an omnivorous eating plan, but fact and fiction are often confused.
Let’s start clearing up exactly what the vegetarian diet is, and what the health benefits might be, right now.
Different Styles of Vegetarianism
The first thing that anyone new to the vegetarian movement should know is that there are different types of vegetarianism. The most well-known of these is veganism, those who avoid all animal products to varying degrees. But there are also fruitarians, who avoid all animal products and all processed foods, lacto-vegetarians, who eat dairy products but not eggs, and lacto-ovo-vegetarians, who eat both dairy products and eggs.
The Vegetarian Diet
With these classifications and subdividers in mind, let’s look at just what we mean when we talk about the vegetarian diet, and what the diet consists of in its entirety. Basically, the vegetarian diet involves lots of fruits and vegetables, the possibility of dairy products, although soya is a regular substitute, a variety of grains and cereals, and often legumes, nuts and seeds.
The Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
There have been numerous studies done into the possible benefits that a vegetarian diet can have on the individual, but keep in mind that no one diet is a placebo or a guarantee. Still, the evidence certainly suggests that a vegetarian diet can have a positive effect on:
Heart Health: Many fatty red meats, and most processed meats, are high in saturated fat, so it follows logically that removing, or limiting, those foods in your diet will reduce your risk of heart disease. Studies undertaken by the University of Vermont of 500,000 people showed that eating even a small steak every day increased the risk of death from cardiovascular disease among participants.
Weight Loss: Meats can be very high in calories, and although eating large amounts of meat can lead to weight gain in the short-term, there are long-term weight effects as well. A large study in London concluded that individuals who ate around 250 grams of red meat, poultry or processed meat gained more weight over five years than those who ate less meat, even if the number of calories consumed was the same.
Cancer Risk: There have been a number of studies over the years working to either show or debunk the meat-cancer connection. Certainly at present the results seem clear, with a study in the British Journal of Cancer indicating that women who ate the highest level of red and processed meat had the highest risk of breast cancer. In other studies, the consumption of meat has also been linked with pancreatic, colon and gastric cancers.
Skin Health: If is wasn’t enough that a vegetarian diet could make you feel better, there is now evidence that it might make you look better too. The combination of having less fatty and processed meats in the diet, as well as the substantial increase in the consumption of fresh produce filled with antioxidants, has been shown to improve skin health. The antioxidants help to improve circulation, positively alter skin pigmentation and maintain skin tone.
There is certainly a lot of strong evidence indicating that a vegetarian diet may be healthier overall for those that choose to follow it. But, if you aren’t quite up for giving up all of the meat in your diet, consider simply subbing out some meat meals with vegetarian alternatives, and a larger amount of produce. It might not be a full vegetarian change, but it is still a healthy change, and could make a difference to you.
As a mum, you want to make sure that your child is loved, cared for, and nourished, but that last one seems to get harder every day. With so much research around showing just how bad the increasing levels of processed foods can be for your kiddies, it isn’t surprising more mums are turning away from the boxed lunch snacks, and into homemade goodie heaven.
But, how can you make snacks that are good for your conscience and you kids’ taste buds? We’ve got ten ideas to get you started!
Raw Energy Balls
The perfect snack for kids on the go, these Raw Energy Balls are a five minute recipe that packs lots of healthy snacking vibes into just one bite. Combining almonds and almond butter, dates, raisins and oats in a sweet ball snack covered in coconut, these are easy for kids to love, and adults won’t be unhappy either!
Baked Quinoa Burgers
For those parents finding themselves stuck for quick fix lunch ideas that will get their kids through the second half of the day, these Baked Quinoa Burgers are an incredibly simple thing to try. They combine the healthy protein of quinoa and eggs, and even sneak in a little bit of kale for nutritional goodness any mum is guaranteed to be happy with.
Lemon Ricotta Breakfast Cookies
A Lemon Ricotta Cookie doesn’t sound like something that any mum should condone for breakfast, but these cookies are packed full of goodness. They make a great recess snack, with a unique flavour entirely apart from the world of boring lunchbox dailies. They’re even gluten free!
Banana Molasses Granola Bars
There aren’t too many kids, or parents, who would say no to a muesli bar, but why pack in the processed snacks when they’re so easy to make yourself? This particular recipe for Banana Molasses Granola Bars are full of banana flavours, and are a perfect balance of crunch, chewy and sweet.
Sweet Potato Chips
Talk about an easy pleaser, these Sweet Potato Chips aren’t just quick to prepare, they’ll be quick to disappear. A healthy take on the ever-favourite ‘french fry’ these sweet, oven-baked snacks are a yummy addition to the lunchbox, and can be paired with dips for even more nutritional value!
Almond Meal Banana Muffins
There has been an influx of so-called ‘healthy’ muffins lately, but believe us, these Almond Meal Banana Muffins really take the cake. For kids, the combination of egg and almond protein, along with the sweet, long-lasting energy of the bananas, make this snack perfect for those long days at school.
Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers
If you aren’t happy with the long list of additives that make their way into your child’s school lunch crackers, these Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers are a nice quick solution. Their cheesy flavour and crunch texture makes them a delicious, healthy and (slightly) addictive snack, for kids and parents alike!
Baked Parmesan Zucchini Chips
For a recipe that takes just five minutes to prepare, and a quick 20 minutes in the over, these Baked Parmesan Zucchini Chips are an instant favourite. Coated in breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, these mild snacks are a great addition to any lunchbox, as well as a perfect way to add a little extra veg into your child’s diet.
Homemade Fruit Leather
Admittedly a lot longer in the making, this recipe is for any parent that dreads in the ingredients of the infamous Fruit Roll-Up. This Homemade Fruit Leather, which works with a variety of different fruits, is a great way to add healthy fruit into the diet, without oodles of unhealthy extras.
Apple Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
Another recipe that re-imagines cookies for breakfast or a healthy mid-morning snack, these Apple Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies combine simple, delicious flavours that even fussy kids will love. They offer a chance to hide a small serving of fruit, and they’re even gluten free, an all-around winner.So, which of these recipes do you think will make the cut for your kids lunches?