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Chia, Chia Mia!

by Rona Berg


Do you remember the chia pet craze from 25 years ago? Then the thought of those strange bull and ram clay figurines, coated with sprouting chia seeds, will either cause you to crack a wistful smile or shake your head in confusion.

Well, not only are chia pets still available, but the New York Times chose them–along with a Betty Crocker cookbook, a Purple Heart medal and a can of Spam–to be included in their time capsule, which will be opened in the year 3000. (Wouldn’t you love to be there to see the puzzled looks on our descendants’ faces?) I haven’t thought about my old chia pet for years, but suddenly, everyone I look, I’m seeing chia. At Whole Foods, you can find chia seeds, along with a recipe for Chia Pudding, which, apparently, resembles tapioca.


Chia for Skin and Nails

Chia seed oil, touted for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, is also seeping into skincare. (Check out One Love Organics Skin Savior Waterless Multibalm, featured in Organic Spa Magazine’s July Skincare Issue And it can make nails healthier–and grow faster–because chia is rich in omega-3s, calcium, boron, and many other nail- and skin-healthy vitamins and minerals.


Chia for Strength and Endurance

Chia is a slightly nutty-tasting seed from a flowering plant (salvia hispanica) in the mint family. Indigenous to Mexico and Guatemala, in the Mayan language, apparently, “chia” means strength. It is said to boost your energy and endurance, which is why chia seeds were a steady diet of Mayan couriers who were constantly on the go, running messages back and forth throughout the kingdom.


A Guide to Chia

To help you figure out whether you should love or hate chia, you’ll want to wrap your brain around a handy little book called Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood by Wayne Coates PhD with Stephanie Pedersen ($14.95; Sterling Publishing). It features over 75 recipes from a yummy Fruit Slushie to Chia Chipotle Bean Burger. We love the beauty recipes: Skin Refreshing Mask, Chia Nail Treatment, and more. It is also loaded with tasty facts about how chia can help you:

*lose weight

*strengthen the immune system

*boost endurance

*even out your blood sugar

*improve bone density

*protect against heart disease


New Chia Pets

And if you happen to be in the market for a new chia pet, you’ll want to know they are now available in cartoon characters like Shrek, Homer Simpson, and Elmer Fudd, who sport great green manes of chia hair. And–who knew?–the original bull and ram are still going strong. An average of 500,000 chia pets are sold over the holiday season. (Just in case you’re looking!)



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