Chia Shrek by doyle.jack

Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia!  We've heard it all before, the daytime TV slogan of the ubiquitous Chia Pet and other Chia-related products of Joseph Enterprises (also the maker of The Clapper, "Clap on! Clap Off!).  What I didn't realize until last year was that chia is the name of the grain that sprouts on your Pet/Shrek/Obama/Homer/or Scooby Doo.

The little black seeds we all made fun of as children are now being touted as "Aztek Superfood" and being sold at Whole Foods and the like.  Its health benefits have been brought to light by both Oprah and Dr. Oz.  2010 brought record setting global chia harvests and 2011 will likely be even bigger.

Yes folks, chia is the new flaxseed. 

from Google Trends

I first had chia at the Granville Market in Vancouver as "the world's most amazing breakfast cereal," - Holy Crap.  Yes, that's the name of the brand, Holy Crap.  They mixed it with hemp milk and it was great; the tiny seeds remind my of poppy seeds but when wet they form a gelatinous bubble around them, much like a tomato seed has.

I've never had a Chia Pet but the Pet-making process is the same as eating it; you mix the seeds with liquid and give them a few minutes to gel.  Instead of spreading them on your Spongebob Squarepants; however, you eat them.  This gel is formed by soluble fibers, called mucilages, and helps slow the breakdown of the carbs during digestion.

According to The Chia Book, The University of Arizona Press, “Chia has more Omega 3 than fish oil, flaxseed and marine algae. It has more protein, lipids, energy and fiber - but fewer carbs - than rice, barley, oats, wheat or corn... Chia is an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and copper.”

The chia plant is indigenous to Central America and Mexico and is used to make the popular drink chia fresca and is often mixed with ground toasted maize kernels to make pinole.  Because of it's high protien and of its ability to absorb 10 times its weight in water, it was a staple for indigenous people to take on long journeys.

In his book “Born to Run,” author Chistopher McDougall outlines how the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico routinly runs 50-100 miles at a time after drinking their chia fresca, made with water, chia, honey, and lemon juice.

The long distance running connection piques little interest to me to me because I don't run, I'm top-heavy and wouldn't even run to catch a bus - I do; however, often make a shake of sorts for breakfast anyways so I got some chia to check it out.

Chia Seeds Soaking in a Mason Jar by GilmourCreative

I tried mixing mine with almond milk, coconut milk, cow's milk, and sometimes simply water.  It never got to a consistency where I would enjoy eating it with a spoon; just too loose and watery.  They have very little taste anyway.  I ended up mixing 1-2 tablespoons with about 10 ounces of liquid, stirring, waiting and pounding it.

I didn't notice an outpouring of Aztek energy pumping through me, but I'm usually 3 cups of coffee deep when I leave the house anyway.  It produced a level of satiety that was similar to my normal breakfast concoction so I didn't see much of a benefit.

There was the novelty of the chia gel and I have read several recipes that use the gel to substitute for fats while baking.  They do this because the gel is so hydrophilic that it holds onto the water in the oven and keeps the baked goods moist.

I'll keep experimenting with chia and since it is so hot right now, I suggest everyone goes and grabs a bag at their local health food store to check it out too.  Some people report that they can't stand the gel because it is too mucus-like, other (whack-jobs, likely) report chia addictions.  But then again, there's that lady who likes to eat Comet.


Authordavid koch

The definition of a Calorie (note: Calorie with a capital "C") is "the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius." - conversely, calorie with a lowercase "c" is the amount of energy to heat one gram of water.  Essentially, a lowercase calorie is 1/1000th of a Calorie.

For all intents and purposes we will be referring to "Calories" here because that is the standard measurement in the United States (that's what is on your food labels).  Ironically, we use Calories in the U.S.... but not Celsius.  Go figure.

Back to the the question ,"Can I Shed Pounds Drinking Ice Water?"  By the definition of a Calorie, yes, absolutely.  There's a little math involved, but it's easy, let's go.

Here are the facts:

A)  Ice water is approximately 0 degrees Celsius. 

B)  Body temperature is about 37 degrees Celsius.

C)  A kilogram of water takes up one liter (that's the beauty and logic behind the metric system). 

D)  Urine doesn't come out cold, it's comes out at body temperature.

If you were to drink a liter of ice water, about 32  fl oz (or four cups), it would require your body to burn 37 Calories to bring that liter of ice water up to body temperature

So the answer is yes, sort of.  For every 8.35 pounds of ice water you drink, you would burn the Caloric equivalent of a half-ounce of cookie dough.  There are a lot more effective ways to slim down.  Stick to the "8 cups of water a day" rule; however, make it ice water every time, and that's burning 74 Calories a day.

Just think, you would only need to drink a gallon of ice water to burn the Calories in 3 tubs of McDonald's BBQ sauce...

Authordavid koch

What's on your stethescope? - photo by pixel bunny

From WebMD, the ever-increasingly-popular, online resource, for-all-that-ails-you, comes an interesting article about food trends in 2008.  No surprise, it all revolves around eating healthy.  

  • Food Trend No. 1: Eco-Friendly Foods
    • "Captain Planet called, he's wondering happened to The Planeteers..."
  • Food Trend No. 2: Local, Natural, and Fresh Foods
    • Organic asparagus from Chile? Or, local asparagus... that have been sprayed?  Hmm, so many choices these days.
  • Food Trend No. 3: Concern About Food Safety
  • Food Trend No. 4: Higher Prices
    • Keith Collins, former chief economist for the Department of Agriculture, estimates that biofuels have caused 23 to 35 percent of the increases in food costs. (from
  • Food Trend No. 5: Prebiotics and Probiotics
    • So don't forget to eat your yogurt and drink your kombucha or one day you may need a fecal transplant!
  • Food Trend No. 6: Whole Grains
  • Food Trend No. 7: Simple Ingredients and Clearer Labels
    • Clear Labels?  Grams of fat?  Americans don't know the metric system! It's no wonder we're fat!  Why is food the only thing for which we use grams?
  • Food Trend No. 8: Emphasis on Lowering Salt
    • From, "But the salt industry says that with the exception of a minority of patients with high blood pressure, there is no clear proof..."
  • Food Trend No. 9: Alternative Sweeteners
    • Isn't it funny how Sweet 'N Low in the US is made from saccharin (which is banned in Canada) and Sweet 'N Low in Canada contains cyclamate (which is banned in the US). - from 
  • Food Trend No. 10: Bottled Water Backlash
    • From, "In 2006, Americans drank about 167 bottles of water each but only recycled an average of 23 percent. That leaves 38 billion water bottles in landfills."

I hope soon that our society will begin to look beyond a minimalist approach to health; beyond just calories, grams of fat, proteins, carbs, and the % of RDA of vitimins A-E.  

There is so much more.  Polyphenols,  flavonoids (or bioflavonoids), resveratrol, peptides!  We are only starting to discover these because we had blinders on.

Take an apple for example, the FDA labels it as having potassium, fiber, sugar, 2% of Iron, 2% of Vitamin A, 8% of Vitamin C.  Pretty meager really.  

The breakfast cereal Lucky Charms chimes in with far more vitamins.  Recent studies have finally isolated folic acid, quercetin, flavonoids, phytonutrients, and  procyanidin are all contained within apples (these are good things).

We have known all along about what, "an apple a day" will do for you.  We're just begining to learn why.


Authordavid koch