Get On the Chia Seed Bandwagon…

(…before The Man Makes Them Illegal)

I am a capricious person.  I will, for no good reason, decide that unknown, untried objects/persons/events are either acceptable or not acceptable.  Which “explains” why I dislike the entire state of California (despite never having been there and marrying someone who lived there for a fair portion of his childhood), but think that Zorb is the best touristy activity known to man (again, despite never having been in a Zorb nor knowing anyone who has).

I’m fine with this personality trait.  I find it endearing.  Other people, probably not so much.

Like poor Ken.  He’d gone on a “The Shocking Awful Truth About Every Food Item You Put In Your Mouth” documentary kick a while back, and started coming home from the health food store on a daily basis, wielding some new, exotic health food.

I immediately hated everything he brought home.

Nope, didn’t even need to know what it was.

I particularly hated these things called “chia seeds” that he came home with, going on and on about how they were this amazing energy source, high in amino acids and vitamins blah, blah, and blah.

I immediately hated them, and refused to touch them.  I justified this through Ken’s description of the seeds, which he said become “gelatinous” when wet.

He lost me at “gelatinous”.

Plus, he’s a weirdo wannabe hippy who is the only person in the world willing to ingest something dubbed “Aztec Superfood”.  Please.  The Aztecs?

But then, a day later, Grace over at Camp Patton posted this about chia seeds!  Since my knowledge of Grace is extensive (read:  I stalk her blog hourly and will continue to do so until the law comes up with blogstalker restraining orders), I know that she’s no wannabe Aztec hippy.  I thought maybe- maybe– I would reconsider my initial assessment of the things and give them a try.


Ash Wednesday came, and for the 10 millionth time since converting, I was pregnant for it.  I always feel like a slacker when it comes to the Church’s extremely gentle fasting obligations, so I thought I’d give the chia seeds a chance to prove that they were worthy of the “Aztec Superfood” status by putting them in the smoothie I made for one of my small meals of the day.

I tried following Grace’s recipe, but, as my exhaustingly detailed email to her later that day shows, I made several changes:

This morning, since I was trying really hard to actually observe the fast and not play the pregnancy card if it wasn’t absolutely necessary, decided to try chia seeds in a smoothie for my “breakfast”.

We had a jug of odwalla superfood (that disgusting-looking green stuff that resembles post-binge fallout), so I used 2 cups of that, 3 carrots, 2 servings of chia seeds (this gourmet delight was for Ken, myself, and whatever minions were brave/stupid enough to try it), a cup of organic vanilla yogurt, and probably 7 chunks of fresh pineapple that I found in the fridge and have no clear idea of where they came.
Remembering your instructions on throwing the seeds in the juice for a bit to let them gel, I threw the seeds in the the juice to let them gel.  Then about 40 seconds later, I was tired of letting them gel, so I chucked everything else in there and blended away.
The results were unlike any smoothie I’ve previously made.  It was kind of like drinking runny, mushy apple sauce out of a glass.  The texture was unpleasant, but the taste was tolerable, mostly because I told Ken that if he so much as LOOKED in the direction of his vile protein powder I was going to put his hand in the blender.
Ok, so that was the recipe.  Here were the results:
All day, I’ve felt energized.  Which, considering I’m old and pregnant and lazy, could absolutely not be attributed to a placebo effect.  But here’s the problem.  While the chia seeds give me a ton of energy, so much so that I’m convinced that today would be a good day to turn over all the earth in the garden AND expand said garden by six feet, the chia seeds did NOT change the fact that I’m 36, and pregnant with my 6th child in 10 years.  
In other words, those stupid seeds had me writing checks my body couldn’t cash.  So now my poor children are going to suffer when I make then rub my dirty, foul feet for a million years while I convince myself I’m NOT going to die today.  Or go into labor.
As far as my astounding anthropological background can figure- these seeds were the responsible force behind the Aztecs’ disgusting human sacrifice problem.  Do you have any idea how exhausting it probably is to sacrifice ONE living person a year?  And these folks were able to knock off 10,000 each year.  Sounds like the horrifying effects of chia seeds to me.
To sum up:  I’m TOTALLY going to have another chia smoothie tomorrow.  Those things are freakishly effective!

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Cari Donaldson


Cari Donaldson lives on a New England farm with her high school sweetheart, their six kids, and a menagerie of animals of varying usefulness. She is the author of Pope Awesome and Other Stories, and has a weekly podcast about homesteading at

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  • Colleen

    Never heard of them.  After your endorsement, still kinda wishing I hadn’t.  Because now I’m going to have to try them all Ken-like and Phil will look at me all Cari-like 😉

  • Yay! I’m glad chia has a use on this earth besides Scooby Doo heads! I’ve been curious to try them ever since you started posting about them. 

    Flax gets gooey, too, but beefs up your smoothies with the same kind of texture. Although I cannot say that they had exactly the same positive effect. 

  • Ana Hahn

    Ok, your email to Grace was hilarious and almost enough to get me to try them (I too struggle with being staunchly opposed to all things “health food-organic” related, for no good reason.) But as a fellow energy-less preggo, I am willing to do just about anything to get a boost.

  • I know this is supposed to be about some food that I’ve already decided is unacceptable, but I’m just going to talk about how glad I am that you find the capriciousness endearing.  I could write you a list a mile long of TERRIBLE movies I’ve never seen.  True story.

  • steph

    man, I was able to resist Grace when she was shoving chia seed propaganda down my throat…. but since we are in the same preg boat and I severely lack energy now I have to hop on that wagon and try me some. great. thanks…resistance was futile. 

  • Cathmom2five

    So weird that this is your post. I just spent an evening with Frances (Bertasi) Smith, and she was ALL ABOUT chia seeds. She said 1-2 tablespoons was a full meal, and pointed out that this could be very economical for us. She makes some sort of pudding with it, with milk and honey I think. I guess this is a sign. 

  • Just don’t try them before any race we may run together.  You don’t need any more advantage over my sorry, shuffling self.

  • Ana,
    Now, I just pour 2T of seed into a glass of juice, close my eyes and slam it.  That way, it’s over before I realize it.

  • Oh my gosh, me too!  I’ve never seen “The Godfather” for that exact reason.

  • We Borg will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to The Collective, Steph.

  • V., I’ve never tried any way of preparing them other than a smoothie/glass of juice.  Let me know how the pudding works.  
    Except I won’t eat the pudding, since it’s on my list of “unacceptable food items”  (see: capricious).

  • Did you have to grind your flax seeds?  I heard that was one area chia seeds were better- they didn’t require grinding first.

  • Micaela

    I have become frighteningly addicted to coffee since moving to the coffee-loving country of SK. I gave it up for Lent and have been in dire need of energy. Since I am hippie/granola through and through, I have no problem ordering this on Amazon. Right now. Thanks, Cari!

  • On days I skip coffee, I don’t really feel it.  On days I skip chia seeds, I am a half rotted zombie, trying to drag my sorry carcass around.

    Just don’t let any of the Koreans in on the secret.  I’ve read that chia seeds aren’t really well known in Europe or Asia, and I’d like to keep it that way.  More for us.

  • you know I heart everything about this article — especially the fact that you said “shaman” at the end.


  • Kate Rhodes

    I jumped on the chia seed wagon with such a vengeance! I have the opposite problem as you apparently…

    I have nothing against slaming chia juice, but my favorite way to eat them is in a coconut pudding (coconut milk, sweetened with whatever, maybe some cinnamon and vanilla). SO delicious and that way you can get on TWO crunchy trains at the same time because coconut is totally crunchalicious. 

  •  I don’t know a lot about these things. I prefer not to research my crunchy habits, but I DO know that chia has a much better shelf life than flax.

  • Emily J

    How DARE you insult Odwalla juice!!!!!  ESPECIALLY the green one!! its absolutely delicious!!!! :p

  • Agreed.  However, they need to do something about the color/consistency combo.  Particularly for those of us who are still elbow deep in the diaper-trenches…..there are similarities that the company probably would prefer not to have.

  • Deacon Tom Fox

    What a hoot! I’m wondering if I can ‘control’ the interview we are planning? I’d better get some super food from a nearby store. (The owners look strangely at me when I come in — they know that nothing they sell could help change me. But then I’ve never tried Chia seeds 🙂 Blessings. dt 

  • Mary @ Better Than Eden

    All right you are now responsible for my impulse purchase at the grocery store this morning.  And considering I don’t prefer to do my own research on such things, I’m going to blame you if consuming chia seeds results in future children having extra appendages.  Or if this super magic energy somehow gets into my milk and my little one decides that sleeping is just not crunchy enough for him.  Then I’m sending him to you.  Trying them right now mixed in some yogurt 🙂

  • Ha!  I’m covered- I told you to consult your shaman first!  Everyone knows the admonishment to consult one’s shaman is legally binding.