When you think of protein, what are the first foods that come to your mind? Maybe chicken, beef, milk, and eggs? Do you typically think of animal products as the “main” protein sources we should eat? Animal products, whether it be meat or milk, are complete protein sources, meaning they include all nine essential amino acids. Many plant-based proteins are called incomplete proteins because they lack one or two of these essential amino acids and need to be paired with another protein in order to be complete. However, there ARE a few plan proteins that are complete, including the star of our Cooking with Connections post today: chia seeds.
Chia seeds are a whole grain, gluten-free, quality, complete protein. One ounce of chia seeds contains 4.7 grams of protein (more protein per ounce than eggs or milk!). Their high fiber content helps to regulate blood sugar and hunger, as well as lowers the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, diverticular disease, and constipation. Chia seeds are also one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which increase “good” HDL cholesterol and decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol, all while regulating blood pressure and reducing inflammation.
When buying chia seed, buy in bulk! Chia seeds have a very long shelf life, about 4-5 years, and it will end up being much more affordable (2 pounds costs approximately $9). These little seeds are very versatile and can be added to smoothies, stir fries, salad, breads, pancakes, yogurt, oatmeal, and so much more.
Here is a simple recipe for chia seed pudding that is gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free. It makes a great addition to any breakfast!
Servings: 1 large (151 calories) or 2 small (75.5 calories) bowls
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1/2 cup milk of choice (almond, cow, soy, cashew, etc)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Add chia seeds, milk, and vanilla to a bowl or mason jar.
- Stir ingredients together, let sit for two minutes and stir again.
- Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours or up to overnight.
- Add toppings of choice (fruit, chocolate, peanut butter, cinnamon, etc).
Check out the how to video from our intern Skylar Forrest on our YouTube channel.