Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Chia Seeds

Whether you realize it or not, you are probably familiar with the chia seed, a nutritional powerhouse that is high in fiber and protein and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.  However, your previous exposure to this up-and-coming “superfood” may not have come from tasting it, but rather watching it grow on top of a Chia Pet.  As funny as Chia Pets are, the seeds that sprout from them make a seriously good addition to your diet.  Chia seeds are sold in natural and health food stores, as well as in many grocery stores, and can be used in a similar manner to flaxseeds:  added to baked goods; sprinkled on top of yogurt, oatmeal or cereal; or blended into smoothies.  The difference between chia and flaxseeds, however, is that chia seeds do not need to be ground up in order to be properly digested, so you have free reign to use the seeds in any manner you like.  I tried the recipe below, courtesy of DCF Wellness Champion Pam Kelly, and loved it so much that I couldn’t not share it on the blog.

Personal-Sized Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients
2 eggs, or ½ cup egg substitute
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 ripe banana, mashed
½ cup honey
5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup chia seeds
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 ¾ cups unsweetened almond milk (or low-fat milk)
Optional Toppings:  raisins, pecans, walnuts, chopped apples, chocolate chips

Instructions
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
2.  Mix eggs, vanilla, applesauce, banana, and honey together in a bowl.
3.  Add oats, chia seeds, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt to wet ingredients and mix well.
4.  Pour in milk and combine.
5.  Spoon mixture into lined cupcake pans.
6.  Sprinkle on toppings, and press down.  If using fresh fruit, mix into batter.
7.  Bake 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
8.  Cool and enjoy, or freeze in gallon bags.  Makes 24 regular-sized cupcakes.

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