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1 LB of Chia Seeds

April 16, 2012

Yes Chia seeds, as in Chia Pets.  I was pretty sure I would look like this guys by the end of the day:

If you have never heard of Chia seeds as food you are not alone, but you also have some learning to do.  Let me help you out with this.

Chia Seeds are marketed as an ancient Aztec superfood.  according to this place:

“Chia seeds are indeed a superfood. They have

  • 2x the amount of protein of any grains
  • 3x the amount of antioxidants of blueberries
  • 5x more calcium than milk
  • 2x the amount of potassium in a banana
  • 3x the iron of spinach

Chia seeds are also loaded with Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids and have trace amounts of boron, which is an essential mineral to help transfer calcium to the bones.”

Anyway, If I was going to go for a superfood it was go big or go home.  I paid $5 more for a guarantee that they were 100% certified organic, gluten free, raw, vegan, and fair trade.  After reading the packaging carefully I was pretty convinced that I could eat one handful then run 100 miles nonstop and rip the still beating heart out of a jaguar with my bare hands. Popeye can keep his spinach, I may have just found the key to invincibility, immortality, self-realization, and becoming a better person.

I was sure chia would transform me into this:

After getting a 1 lb bag of chia in the mail (thanks to my favorite health food store, I realized that I had no idea what to do next.  I cracked open the bag and looked inside.  The sheer number of nearly microscopic seeds was astounding.  I measured out 1/8th of a tea spoon and counted them carefully.  372.  I broke out my 9th grade physical science dimensional analysis skills and calculated that the bag held 535,680 seeds.

I poured some seeds into a sandwich bag and figured I would eat them on the way to work.  Here is something I did not know and did not count on:

Chia seeds expand remarkably when wet.  Put a pinch of seeds in your mouth and start chewing and they become a mouthful.  I ate pinches of seeds for over 35 minutes and made no noticeable progress.  I dumped them into a coffee cup and added water.  One of these pictures is my breakfast:

I have to say the taste is not bad.  Think plain cream of wheat.  The texture is difficult.  Think glue stick meets snot.

I felt pretty fantastic all morning.  I had plenty of energy.  They only downside was the knowledge that I was going to have to eat lunch.  At home I had poured a couple of inches of dry seeds into a mason jar and added cold water.  Within a about a minute the seeds started expanding:

After 10 more minutes they were thoroughly congealed:

Now most people who eat chia seeds abide by the serving suggestions, or close enough as to make no difference.  Two tablespoons can be added to a stir fry, orange juice, a smoothie, almost anything.  You get a ton of nutrition, a little bit of interesting texture, and that’s about it.  I was trying to eat 60 tablespoons plain.  Once I added water I was looking at a tremendous amount of food.  At least hunger was not going to be an issue.

I was able to eat half of my lunch in about 40 minutes.  I became a master of my own gag reflex in that time.  When 3:30 pm rolled around, I gave my now superhuman self a little pep talk and powered through the other half of my lunch.

When I got home for dinner, I decided I needed to switch things up.  Laura recommended making them into pancakes by putting them into the food processor to make some sort of flower, adding water, and cooking the resulting glop in a pan.  Anything sounded like a good plan at this point.

I threw the seeds into a food processor and went wild.  I pressed grind, chop, pulse, foreward, reverse.  I took the top off and looked inside.  A faint wisp of dust rose up, but other than that, no change.  I put them in some water anyway, sprayed zero calorie non stick something or other in a pan and started frying them up.

Turns out if you burn a chia seed enough it becomes much easier to chew.  I had a break down in willpower and added chipotle hot sauce.  Not a lot of nutritional value, but man I needed something to make it more edible.

I went outside and did yard work till dark.  I came in to get ready to run when I realized that I still had about a quarter pound of dry chia seeds left.  My heart sunk.  I thought I was facing another hour long showdown with my gag reflex, until I had a brilliant idea.  I got a big spoon in one hand and a glass of water in the other, I shoveled them into my mouth dry, took a big swig of water and swallowed them like 20,000 tiny pills.  I did this over and over until that bag was gone.

Finished, I stepped out the door and went for a run.  I started out feeling like a true Aztec super endurance athlete:

I peeled off the first two miles in about 8 minutes each, but after that I could feel the seeds starting to expand and set up inside me.  My stomach started puffing out, I felt a pressure building up and climbing my throat.  I eased back a bit and ran the last mile in about 9 minutes.

The spell passed and all was well.  For then.

I know it’s impolite, but I am going to talk about poop now.  The next day everything came out just fine, but I never knew my body could hold so much material.  Everything I ate must have kept expanding overnight, and it all came out at one time in truly staggering proportions.  I think a large elephant would have been proud of what I did that morning.

I thought it was over, but things didn’t feel right later on in the day.  Apparently when left in the body for more than 24 hours chia turns into something surprisingly similar to concrete.

Cost: $15

Taste: Bland

Performance: Ok. Probably excellent if you’re halfway smart about it.

Fulness Factor: Excellent

X factor:  Good purge of the body.  Lost 6 lbs after they ran through me.


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  1. Mindy permalink

    Ian, this is hilarious!!!! I have so enjoyed reading about your food challenges! I have loved Chia seeds for a while now and have started incorporating them into my baking, going beyond my usual use of them in smoothies. But I am glad I don’t have to run this experiment to learn about their full effects. Thanks for all your “research” on consuming crazy things for a day!

  2. onegirl4god permalink

    I find your blog hilariously informative! Chia seeds, who knew?


  3. judy permalink

    glad to see you cutting back on the sodium.

  4. Interesting experiments you have going on. You’re very brave:). Yes, with chia, it’s best to add about 10 servings of water( or drink the equivalent) per 1 serving of chia, to avoid the “concrete”.

  5. You are welcome. I recommended this. ( I work with your brother ). Love reading your blog.

    • Thank you, Dan. If you recommend anything else, I’ll take about a dozen laxatives before trying it.

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