Those of us who remember the Chia Pet craze are probably surprised or bemused that the gelatinous seeds we spread on terra cotta heads or animals have lately become one of the most popular superfoods. High in nutrients, gluten free, and obviously vegan, chia seeds, and flaxseeds too, can be incorporated into your diet in muffins, cookies, smoothies, cereals, or by just plain munching on them.  To be truly digested, flaxseeds should be ground first before mixing them in other food dishes.  Just put them in a blender or coffee grinder before eating or adding to delicious smoothies or baked goods.

Since chia seeds turn into a sort of jelly as soon as they are moistened, they can be used in vegan baking as a substitute for eggs or other binders. They won’t help the dough rise the way eggs do, though, so adjust your recipe accordingly. Meat-eaters might enjoy using chia seeds as a binder in meatballs or hamburger patties. To make a chia seed “egg” mix one part chia seeds with three parts warm water and let sit for a few minutes. The same procedure works for ground flaxseeds.

Hate the way fish oil gives you nasty burps, or just don’t like taking pills? Chia seeds and flaxseeds both have a lot of the same omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, but hard to find elsewhere. Omega-3s promote healthy cholesterol, blood pressure, and brain function. Other nutrients in the seeds include, but are not limited to, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B and E.

Both chia seeds and flaxseeds have a lot of fiber, with the former coming in slightly above the latter with ten grams of fiber per ounce compared with 7 grams per ounce. Ten grams of fiber is over 40 percent of the daily recommended intake!

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