Chia is easy to grow, beautiful to look at, and offers lots of nutritional value. It deserves a place in any garden.
I have been growing chia organically for the past ten years, and in that time I have fine-tuned my growing and harvesting techniques. Chia is one of the easiest plants to grow, and one of the healthiest.
Chia seeds are a very high source of linolenic acid (LNA) and linoleic acid (LA). Both these essential fatty acids attract oxygen and help cell membranes to be flexible and fluid, plus strengthen our immune system to help protect our bodies from viruses, bacteria, and allergies.
Most people's diets are dangerously low in essential fatty acids, which results in tired muscles, fatigue, and a range of health problems. We need to eat EFAs daily because the human body cannot manufacture them. If your diet includes a lot of refined oils and processed foods, you are most at risk.
EFAs, such as those found in chia, can assist with weight loss and removal of toxins from the body.
Enzymes in chia also help with digestion of other foods.
Traditionally, chia has been used to calm nerves and strengthen the memory, but the most high-profile value of chia comes from the seed's ability to give you energy. University research has revealed that one tablespoon of chia seed could reasonably be expected to sustain a person working hard enough to work up a sweat, for 24 hours.
Chia leaves: Pick and dry them to make tea.
Where to Grow Chia
Before you choose where to plant chia seeds or transplant your seedlings, it helps to have a realistic expectation of the size of a mature chia plant. Chia plants grow to the size of a large bush or small tree.
If you grow herbs in small pots or tucked tightly together in an outdoor herb garden, you'll need to find a new spot for chia. Chia grows taller than most herbs and takes up a lot of space, so give thought to where you'll grow it.
Chia is not a ground-hugger like mint, and it will grow much taller than even the biggest parsley, sage, or rosemary plants. You need to provide sufficient space (and head room) for your chia to expand before it flowers.
My organic chia plants grow as tall as an adult. Some reach six feet or more while others settle and flower at about five feet tall. If you intend to grow chia in a pot, it is important to anticipate the size of a mature chia plant when choosing the pot size.
How Big Does a Chia Plant Grow?
How tall does your chia grow? My organic chia plants grow as tall as an adult.
How to Grow Organic Chia
Chia seeds are tiny. You don't need to dig a hole to bury them. Lightly ruffle an area of your weed-free garden with a rake or, if you only have a few seeds and are spacing them carefully, simply loosen the earth with your fingers. Sprinkle a few seeds over the soil and rub gently to cover them.
Water the seeds daily, and within about a week you can expect to see chia sprouts.
When planting chia seeds directly in the garden, I create a carpet of chia and then thin the plants as they grow. Some are fed to the hens, some are used as mulch, and some are harvested while young to dry the leaves for chia tea.
Chia seeds can also germinate successfully in pots. If you want to start your chia plants indoors or close to your garden tap, sprinkle the seeds lightly in your pot and water regularly. When the sprouts are about three inches tall, they are ready for transplanting.
Remember to mulch your chia plants as they grow, and water them regularly. They thrive in an organic garden and don't like competing with weeds.
Here's some hints to remember:
Don't clear existing weeds until you are ready to fill the space.
When it's time to plant, work gently. Don't dig up or turn all the top soil (thereby exposing a whole new lot of weed seeds).
Plant your new seeds in the freshly cleared space without inviting unnecessary competition from deeper weed seeds.
Add mulch and compost and anything you like to make your garden healthier as your plants grow, but put it on top and let it feed the soil from above.
Chia seeds germinated in a pot.
Harvesting Chia Seeds
The size of your harvest will determine how many days are required to separate the seeds, but if I don't have time, I store dried flower heads in a large calico bag until I have time for my next seed separating session.
Successful collection of chia seeds without waste has a lot to do with timing. When growing chia at home, it is possible to pick individual flower heads when they look ready instead of doing a mass harvesting like they do in a commercial growing environment.
If you wait until the flower head browns, you risk losing the seeds.
Begin harvesting your chia as soon as most of the petals have fallen off the flower.
Give the heads time to dry in paper bags or on a drying rack. Expect at least some of the chia seeds will break free in the process.
Do not hang the plants upside down in your shed.
Ready for Harvest
Dried chia flower heads, ready for seed separation. Picked at the right time and allowed to dry, the chia seeds are easy to separate and collect.
Separating the Chia Seed from the Flower Head
My children conduct science experiments with chia. They explore different ways to separate the seed.
Crushing Chia Flower Heads
The fastest and easiest way to crush the dried flower heads and extract the chia seeds is to rub with a flat hand.
A new year is a clean slate. Now’s the time to start that new fitness plan, actually gets eight hours of sleep every night, and form healthy eating habits.
If eating healthier is one of your top new year priorities, that's great. But "I'm going to eat healthier this year" is one of those well-intentioned, but too-hard-to-define goals that isn't nearly as easy done as said. (That's one reason it's so damn hard to keep resolutions.) So if the big idea is healthier eating, you'll have better success if you break it down into bite-sized mini-goals like these registered dietitian-approved resolutions. Tricks, like eating veggies with breakfast and snacking on two pieces of fruit every day, are super simple ways to upgrade the healthy eating habits you already have. So you’ll have no problem getting them to stick.
1. Reduce your sugar intake.
“Cutting back on sugar is a gradual process and doesn’t happen overnight, but once you start to cut back on it, you’ll realise you don’t need as much of it as you once thought. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. One easy thing I like to do to cut is used Truvia Nectar because it has 50 percent fewer calories than sugar. I put it in my Greek yoghurt, tea, or anything else I usually put honey, sugar, or agave in.”
— Chelsea Elkin, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.
2. Add veggies to breakfast time.
“One health-protective habit I often recommend is aimed to fill half of every mealtime plate or bowl with non-starchy veggies. For most people (including me!), that’s easier to do for lunch and dinner than for breakfast. So, my eating resolution this year is to include veggies in one way or another at every breakfast. I see plenty of non-traditional breakfasts in the future!”
— Jackie Newgent, R.D.N., culinary nutritionist and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook
3. Save booze for the weekend.
“Not only does alcohol intake add empty calories to the diet, but it can lead to poor diet and fitness decisions the following day. My rule of thumb: Skip out on the alcohol during the week and save that special glass of wine for weekend activities.”
— Nora Minno, R.D., C.P.T., an NYC-based registered dietitian and personal trainer
4. Practice mindful eating.
“A big goal of mine for the new year is to eat more mindfully. The last couple of months have been super-hectic and I have found myself rushing through meals more than usual. In 2017, I want to take more time to taste and appreciate everything that I put in my mouth. Food is such a delightful sensory experience and a privilege! Furthermore, there’s evidence to suggest that practising mindful eating may assist with portion control, weight management, and possibly even digestion, which are all important factors for long-term health.”
— Edwina Clark, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., and head of nutrition and wellness at Yummly
5. Incorporate more probiotics and prebiotics into your diet
“This is an emerging area of science that were are going to be hearing more and more about. Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible food components that are linked to promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut. The best choices are bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans, and whole-wheat bread. Probiotics are active cultures that help change or repopulate intestinal bacteria to balance gut flora. Consuming probiotics may boost immunity and improve overall GI health and the best sources are yoghurts, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh. Having a combination of prebiotics and probiotics in our diets can be a very powerful step to improving our overall health.”
— Laura Manning, R.D., clinical nutrition coordinator in the department of gastroenterology at The Mount Sinai Hospital
6. Finally get into meal prep.
“A weekly meal plan can help you eat better, save money, and time during the week. I really like this type of resolution because it is positive, no restriction, doesn’t involve dieting.”
— Rebecca Clyde, M.S., R.D.N., C.D., blogger at Nourish Nutrition
7. Eat two pieces of fruit a day.
“Even though I know as a nutrition expert how healthy fruit is, I don’t eat enough of it in the winter months. (That’s a hard confession to make!) This year I am going to really attempt to eat two pieces of fruit per day. With oranges, clementines, pears, and apples galore it shouldn’t be so hard, and I can always get my fill of berries as long as I am willing to pay more for them. I will include one piece with my lunch and one piece as part of my daily afternoon snack.”
— Keri Gans, M.S. R.D., author of The Small Change Diet
8. Eat out less.
“Around the holidays, people eat out a lot at restaurants or other people's homes. When you're not cooking, you have less control over what you're actually eating, and all of these celebrations can unintentionally lead to consuming extra fat, salt, and sugar. I usually recommend making January a cook-at-home month. Make a weekly meal plan, and focus on lighter, seasonal comfort fares like bean soups and roasted vegetables.”
— Maxine Yeung, M.S., R.D., owner of The Wellness Whisk
9. Stock your pantry with fewer sweets.
“Resolving to never eat a sweet again takes a lot of effort and can create a feeling of deprivation. A more realistic resolution would be to create an environment in which you can consume fewer sweets without having to rely solely on your willpower. Research shows that when sweets are within arm’s reach or even within our sight, we are much more likely to consume them than if we have to go out to the store to buy them.”
— Patricia Bannan, M.S., R.D.N., author of Eat Right When The Time Is Right
In this week of health, we received some amazing responses from our community. Health has different meanings and is valued by all irrespective of who we are.
Sumita Kapoor, one of our followers, loves to do yoga for a healthy mind and fit body. Her daughter follows her footsteps and does the same. Rehana Khambaty's son plays outdoor games to be fit.
Games and yoga both have a positive effect on your body and mind. It makes you fit from the outside as well as inside.
Nalini Desai starts her day with a bowl of healthy muesli, dry fruits and milk. Annu Dogra, on the other hand, starts her day with yoga followed by a power-packed breakfast to keep her going the entire day.
For Kanchan Malhotra, fitness and nutrition are her passion. She exercises, meditates and does yoga for a healthy body. Throughout the day she takes in protein-rich and low carb food.
We also received responses from Riddhi Sharma, Suman Malhotra and Sajal Malhotra. We appreciate their efforts in leading a healthy life.
And yes, the winner of #HungryforHealth is Annu Dogra. Congratulations for winning an exclusive HungrySquirrel hamper. Please send your details via Facebook message.
Place your order from here. You can also place orders for Diwali/corporate gift packs. Connect with us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
October is a month of festivity and celebrations. It's a month of religious significance where we give gifts and receive happiness. To continue the legacy, we have come up with an entire month of celebrations. Each week we will have a new theme, this week's theme is health and life.
We invite you all to share your health and life stories with us. It could be stories, pictures, food or anything that is health for you. All you need to do is tag us on your health stories, use #HungryforHealth.
The best stories stand a chance to win an exclusive #HungrySquirrel hamper. Come and celebrate the gift of health and life this week. And wait for what may be the theme for the coming weeks.
Trail mix was invented in 1968 to serve as a snack while hiking or doing another strenuous activity. It's lightweight, portable, and full of energy-dense ingredients like dried fruits, nuts and chocolate- perfect for trailside noshing. For those same reasons, trail mix can pack a hefty caloric punch, especially when we mindlessly munch while sitting around at work or home. Keep serving size to a quarter-cup or less to keep this yummy snack from sneaking into 'danger food' territory.
Summer is prime time for picnics, outdoor parties, sports practices and more. Having a simple staple summer snack mix recipe keeps the kids happy and fueled for fun. We've broken down what it takes to create the best summer snack mix that will satisfy your kids' taste and your health concerns in this summer trail mix. A pack of this contains dried blueberries, dried cranberries, roasted almonds and pumpkin seeds.
Now, keep hunger at bay with these fun and tasty kids snack packs. We have tossed together a healthy combo of nuts and dried fruit for a handy, portable snack. Try our junior packs available in 3 amazing flavours Berries and Sunshine, Jumping Jacks and Fruit Burst.