Chia seeds have benefits far beyond their calcium content, but first here's little historical background for those of you that keep hearing the ch-ch-ch-chia song in your heads. Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, which grows abundantly in Southern Mexico. In ancient times they were integral Aztec and Mayan diets. In fact chia seeds were essential rations for Aztec warriors and are still a main component in the Tarahumara Indian's diet, those famous runners in Mexico that can run hundreds of miles without resting.
Back to my original point, chia are full of nutrients. Here's a concise list:
-Chia are full of omega-3 fatty acids. In fact they have even more omegas than flax seeds.
-Chia seeds have calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.
-Chia seeds have lots of fiber per serving.
-Chia is rich in antioxidants. In fact the seeds don't deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid, like other seeds and nuts.
-Unlike other super seeds like flax, chia seeds do not have to be ground to be absorbed.
With all those health benefits and their nutritional stability, why not add them to your kiddos snacks? And here's your first idea for sneaking them in. How about... brownies?
Now I know brownies aren't the quintessential healthy snack. But this is a processed-free version adapted from one of my favorite processed-free foods sites, Out of the Box Food. With whole wheat flour, chia, flax and hazelnuts these are a great, healthy brownie alternative. And they are rich, moist and decadent. In fact you'll never know these are bursting with omegas, fiber and nutrients. But your kiddos are sure to love them, if mine are any indicator. Enjoy!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup raw (turbinado) sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup chia seeds
3 tablespoons flax meal (if not available, omit along with 1/2 cup water and use an additional 3 eggs)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts (or another 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9x9 inch square baking pan.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Whisk in sugar and bring back to a simmer. When mixture is simmering, add applesauce and water and then cook for an additional minute, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat.
Whisk in chia seeds, flax, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and vanilla. Cool slightly, Then stir in egg until well incorporated.
Using a food processor or a clean coffee grinder, grind hazelnuts until fine. Stir in flour and ground hazelnuts until just mixed. Mix in chocolate chips and pour into baking pan. Cook for 30 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out with crumbs but not a wet batter. Cool completely before serving.