This superfood has been a Mexican staple for years, and has more recently been creating waves due to the powerful punch of protein, omega-3 fatty acids and fibre found in every teaspoon. Chia seeds are mainly made-up of omegas – at a whopping 60% – which makes this one of the richest plant-based fatty acid sources. Essentially this is some pretty impressive brain food for growing little people.
With 20.4g of protein per 100g, (2g per tsp) your child is getting in a healthy dose of the building blocks needed for their growth and development; skin, bone, hair, muscle, tissue and blood formation. The protein found in chia seeds therefore makes this little seed an ideal protein source for vegetarians and vegan children.
For vegan recipes or if your child has an allergy to eggs, chia seeds is a fantastic substitute for eggs: simply mix 1 Tbs chia seeds with 3 Tbs water and allow to thicken. You’ll then have a gel-like consistency that you can easily mix into any recipe.
Chia seeds’ ability to soak up liquid means that you can make delicious puddings in a matter of minutes. All you need to do is combinine chia seeds with anything from cow’s milk to yoghurt or even coconut cream, with the flavour combinations of your choice (fruit purée, grated fruit, vanilla, cinnamon). For best results, pop your mixture into the fridge overnight.
Each serving packs in the antioxidants to assist your little one in fighting off free-radicals and toxins in the body and may be a more favourable antioxidant source for those kids allergic to berries. Calcium, manganese and phosphorous can also be found in these tiny black powerhouses, which adds to the list of reasons why you should also love chia seeds.
Chia is a wonderful alternative to flaxseeds: they contain more fibre per serving and, unlike flaxseeds, don’t need to be ground before eating in order to be digested. You can therefore sprinkle these guys directly onto porridge, yoghurt or in smoothies for your child to add a nutritional boost or to aid their little systems with constipation.
There seems to be some conflicting opinions about when is the most beneficial time to introduce chia seeds into your child’s diet: some experts seem to be of the belief that any form of nutritional supplementation – over and above a healthy and balanced diet – is not needed in babies, and rather that breastfeeding and pregnant mothers should eat chia seeds to pass on the nutrients to their child. Some experts say that babies are actually unable to digest chia seeds in the same way as adults do, and it is therefore recommended to only give your child chia seeds in their toddler years.
Remember that too much of a good thing can be bad…and all that. Too much fibre can also have the reverse effect and lead to constipation. Moderation is therefore key and you should hold back on raining the chia seeds down on absolutely everything. If you notice any signs of discomfort, gas and bloating in your child then it is recommended to rather get off ‘chia seed train’ and try a smaller quantity another time.
*The above information should never replace the advice of your pead, GP or nurse