Chia Pets are one thing…but the seeds are an easy nutritional powerhouse!

I think along the way Sophia and Karina may have been introduced to one those quirky pseudo-pets Sea Monkeys–those strange little hatching somethings come to life after being packaged in suspended animation. But I don’t believe they yet know the joys of owning a Chia Pet! I know our children had them.  And at least here in the United States we can still repeat the commercial catchphrase, “Ch-ch-ch-chia!”

Those little chia seeds are better eaten for their health benefits than inhabiting terra-cotta pots! The Chia Seed is a nutritional powerhouse, high in antioxidants, magnesium, calcium…I could keep going, but you get the point! I should mention that it is a valuable source of Alpha-Linolenic Acid, an Omega-3 essential fatty acid that helps support cardiovascular function. High in protein, it is fiber-rich also, supporting the digestive system and may contribute to lowering cholesterol levels…that’s a lot of benefit  to be found in little seeds. And unlike flax seeds, they don’t need to be ground to make the nutrients available to the body.

Chia Seeds are a whole grain once used by Aztecs as a main energy source. There are many ways to incorporate this energy-boosting food into the diet–the easiest being just toss them into yogurt or sprinkle them on cereal. But they are also easily incorporated into baking. They don’t have a lot of taste so they don’t compete with other flavors!

Tonight I thought I’d take some of that overgrown zucchini I showed you a week ago, shred it, and make a healthy (well, healthier) version of zucchini muffins!

The addition of applesauce instead of so much oil makes these a much lighter version of the original recipe.

Zucchini-Applesauce-Chia Muffins (12 good-sized muffins)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups of zucchini, grated and squeezed of excess liquid

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup natural unsweetened applesauce

2 cups unbleached bread flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4-1/2 cup chia seeds (depends on how bold you want to be-I usually add even more)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I don’t add nuts because the little girls don’t like nuts in their muffins…even though Sophia claims that cashews are her favorite peanut!)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 12-cup muffin tin in whatever method you  prefer.

Combine the sugar, egg, vanilla, and stir in zucchini, oil and applesauce. In another bowl combine all the dry ingredients, including the chia seeds. Add the flour mixture to the zucchini mixture…stir by hand or use the mixer…makes little difference.

Add to the muffin cups and bake until a nice golden brown–about 25 minutes. Let them rest for about five and they are good to go! They are very moist, and they make a nutritious muffin.

I hope you’ll have a chance to try them! They are really good…and if you have zucchini (courgettes) in your garden, let one or two get a little larger before you pick them and you’ll have one of those mega-squash that are just perfect for shredding and using in baked goods. I hope you’ll join me in getting familiar with Chia Seeds.

I may be in the market for a Chia Pet soon, too. Nan and Papa’s house may need one!

Breathing lighter…Debra

38 thoughts on “Chia Pets are one thing…but the seeds are an easy nutritional powerhouse!

  1. I never connected the two! Amazing, although I never had a Chia Pet, I remember the endless commercials about them. I have recently been introduced to Chia and am delighted to try these muffins! Thank you!

    • I hope you enjoy the muffins! They are so easy…I don’t even use the mixer. I’ve heard of chia seeds for a long time, but only recently started using them in my favorite foods. And now that I buy them in bulk, I can make my own chia pets! Hahaha!

    • Chia seeds are really new to me! But I can find so many ways to use them, and once I read about their nutritional value I couldn’t pass on them! They’re powerful! I hope you have a wonderful weekend! :-)

  2. Chia seeds? Really? Finally — and I know I’m way behind here — I remembered to buy quinoa this week and was looking forward to my Saturday morning trip to the farmers market for ingredients to make a tasty salad. And what happened? I didn’t even have the chance to pat myself on the back when the playing field changed again. OK, it’s the same playing field but the ball has changed. Chia seeds are the new quinoa. Who knew?

    • Chia seeds are great for adding in a little nutritional value, John, and they don’t need to be cooked or soaked or anything at all. I do know what you mean about trying to stay up with “super foods of the week”–I happen to find the challenge very interesting and so I pass along my latest food phase. Hold on…the next one is going to be Hemp seed. :-) We’ll see who buys into that one! Ha! Have a good weekend, and a wonderful time at the Farmer’s Market! D

  3. I didn’t know you could use chia seeds in muffins. I’ve seen chia seeds in the shops but never cooked with them. I’ve heard they are a super food. I really should try them. You’ve inspired me Debra! xx

  4. You might like the texture if you use whole wheat pastry flour instead of bread flour in your muffins, Debra — or half and half unbleached flour and whole wheat pastry flour (this will make them lighter than using bread flour).

    • It’s taken me awhile to get back to say thank you for the flour suggestion, Sharyn. I did wonder if another flour in the muffins would be preferable, but didn’t know where to begin! I’ll look forward to trying them again with whole wheat pastry flour. It will add some extra nutrition to the mix, too! Have a good weekend, Sharyn! Debra

  5. I’m so glad you reminded me of this – I recently read about the health benefits of chia seeds, but promptly forgot. I’ll add this to my next organic shopping list!

    • Chia seeds are so easy to incorporate into other foods, because not only are they tiny, but they don’t have much taste. They are really quite the little wonder food! I think it’s fun to discover some of these foodstuffs that have been around for centuries and “all of a sudden” decide they are a superfood! If you decide to cook with them, let me know what you try! :-)

  6. I will need to try this, Debra. Of course, around here, we have given and received any manner of Chia pets, giggling at the resemblance to Uncle Bub or Mr. Westinghouse. Who knew they were the staff of life? How fun this post is.

    Jennifer actually had sea monkeys that lived for several years. We warned her when she bought them with her very own quarters and dimes that they might not live very long. I think she willed them to live as long as she did.

    • I’m amazed that Jennifer’s sea monkeys lived for years! I’ve never known that to happen! I’m sure the company who sells them would have loved to have known about this…not everyone’s experience, certainly! Ha! And yes, although chia seeds have been around for centuries, it seems “all of a sudden” they are notable! If you happen to see them in the stores, just look at the list of nutrients! You’d be amazed. Have a great weekend, Penny! :-)

  7. In our next dietary phase, these muffins would be perfect for us. I’ve never thought of eating chia seeds, Debra, but they sound like a perfect food. I always wanted the pet version, along with the pet rock, but I never got either one.

    • The zucchini muffins are really good, and much lighter than most, Andra. I know right now you have some very strict dietary rules, but when you can broaden your choices a bit, these would probably fit in well. In the meantime, look into the chia seeds…they are good in yogurt or other simple foods and they are loaded with micronutrients! :-)

    • Chia pets must be purely an America phenomenon! Millions are sold! And they are nothing more than seeds that sprout “hair” on ceramic animals or faces. And to think that other countries weren’t just dying to import them! Ha!

  8. Sea monkeys!!!! LOL! Mr. N had some of those and they just freak me out! And ch-ch-ch-chia! You had me cracking up with great memories this post Debra! And your muffins sound delicious – and healthy. Perfect! :)

    • The muffins are just so basic, but they are lower in fat than some and that makes them a little more accessible to me! LOL! Sea monkeys freaked me out as a child. I didn’t like something that seemed so alien! But now with the little girls I tend to like that kind of thing simply because of their reaction. I’m glad I could make you laugh with Chia pets! We have some odd American cultural reference points, don’t we? Sea Monkeys and Chia Pets! Wow! Have a good weekend, Kristy!

  9. Debra, I was not aware of the value of chia seeds! A quick question: Can I add them to ground beef? Sometimes I Iike to add healthy, hidden ingredients to my cooking because my mate is not much of a veggie eater. I want to make sure he gets his vitamins and minerals. The recipe sounds yummy!

    • Sorry it took me a while to get back to you Marie. We are getting ready for vacation and I’ve been running! I am sure you could add the chia seed to meat, but it might still be visible and could kind of freak your mate out! :-) I think if he’s open at all, just a little sprinkle on top of other food…even ice cream! They sprinkle on anything at all. I put them on m cereal or yogurt and they don’t have any real taste, so they aren’t offensive in any way. The meat idea is a possibility, though! :-)

  10. Dear Debra, truly, I never knew that there were such a thing as Chia seeds. I knew about the terra cotta and grass growing but never realized that the grass grew from seeds we could eat! (I first met a Chia pet in 1957, when a graduating college senior who was a friend gave a “Chia head” to me before she entered the convent.)

    Thanks for telling us about the nutritional aspects of the Chia seed. I hope I can find this seed in the health care store in town. I copied the recipe and will bake these muffins with or without the seeds–depending on if I can find them! Peace.

    • I hope you’ll be able to find the chia seed, Dee. I would imagine you will, since I think its recently been highlighted by Dr. Oz and some of Oprah’s programming…those two tend to get things into the marketplace! The muffins are so easy, and they are lighter than most with the applesauce. Of course once they’re lightened, I tend to eat more, so go figure! I’ve had a desire to go out and get another chia pet or head ever since I mentioned them. Aren’t they just the silliest novelty! I hope you have a very nice weekend, Dee! :-)

    • To think we’ve kept these silly novelties all to ourselves, Kate! I don’t think there could be an American over the age of 30 who doesn’t know what a Chia pet is! The television advertising was once obnoxiously ever-present! Ha! If you ever locate one, you must get it…just to say you did! :-)

  11. I had those little “sea creatures” in my Science classroom years ago. I think they were “brine” shrimp.. a food for bigger sea creatures. Of course as a child I thought they were supposed to have big tails and be something like a mermaid, lol! I never did own a Chia Pet.. and find it very cool that we are now eating the seeds and that they are a nutritious powerhouse! I have a little packet at home for cereal (breakfast) but now I’ll be thinking of adding them to my baking!! xx Smidge

    • I am still thinking I need to purchase a Chia Pet, Barb. It would be good for a laugh to have one in my kitchen window! My daughter found chia seed pocket bread at our Costco the other day. She laughed that perhaps they were reading my blog! :-) I have been known to eat a spoonful of chia seed just off a spoon when I want to add them in and I’m not doing any particular baking. But we who know it’s nutritional value can continue to spread the word. You’re more creative in the kitchen than I…I’ll be interested to see if you come up with something pretty! :-) Debra

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