FOOD: For centuries, Native Indian Peoples in the Americas have used chia seed as a staple food.
Aztec warriors of Mexico subsisted on chia seeds during their battles and hunting expeditions. Indians of the Southwest would eat as little as a teaspoon of chia seeds during
a 24-hour march. Indians ran from the Colorado River to the Pacific Ocean to trade turquoise for shells, carrying only a pouch of chia seed for nourishment.
Sustained by chia seed, the Tarahumara
Indians of Mexico hunted by running
their prey to exhaustion. In 1997, a 52 year old Tarahumara
Indian, Cirildo Chacarito, won the Nike-sponsered 100-mile run in California.He completed this astonishing feat in a time of 19
hours, 37 minutes and three seconds. He beat a field of hundreds of competitors with more than an half- hour lead, wearing only his home-made tire tread
shoes, to Nike's embarrassment.
WHY ARE CHIA SEEDS A HIGH-ENERGY, ENDURANCE FOOD?
COMPLETE PROTEIN SOURCE: Chia seed is a complete source of dietary
protein providing all the essential amino acids. Compared to
other seeds and grains, chia seed provides the highest source of protein: between 19 to 23 percent protein by weight.
ABSORB AND RETAIN WATER: One of the exceptional qualities, unique to the chia seed, is its ability to absorb more
than 12 times its weight in water. This ability to hold water can prolong hydration and retain electrolytes
in body fluids, especially during exertion. Normal fluid retention ensures normal electrolyte dispersion across cell
membranes, maintains fluid balances and aids normal cellular function.
GEL-FORMING PROPERTY: Chia seeds contain a mucilloid gel which protects the seed against drying in arid climates
where the plants grow. When a spoonful of chia seed is mixed in a glass of water and left for 30 minutes, almost a solid gelatin will form. This gel-forming reaction is due to the soluble fiber in the chia seeds.
Researchers believe this same gel-forming phenomenon occurs in the stomach when foods containing these gummy fibers, know
as mucilages, are eaten. The gel formed when chia seeds are eaten creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and
digestive enzymes that break them down, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar and extending endurance.
BLOOD SUGAR REGULATOR: The gel forming property of chia seed tends to slow digestion and
sustain balanced blood sugar levels, which can be helpful in preventing or controlling diabetes. Today, there is an incidence
of diabetes among some Native American tribes of approximately 47%. Clinical studies show that when the Native Americans
refrain from eating the "white man's diet" and return to their indigenous food (including chia seeds), they can control and
even eliminate diabetes.
EASY TO DIGEST: The water absorption, bulking-agent property of chia seed is an important aid to human
digestion. Whole, water-soaked chia seeds can be easily digested and absorbed. This results in rapid transport
of chia nutrients to the tissue for use by the cells. This efficient assimilation makes chia seeds very effective when rapid development of tissue takes
place, especially during growth periods of children and adolescents. Chia also facilitates the growth and regeneration
of tissue during pregnancy and lactation, and aids regeneration of muscles for conditioning athletes and bodybuilders.
Time: 40-60 minutes (allow Desert Jello to set-up while you complete other activities)
Materials: chia seeds
bowl and spoon
cups and spoons
extra fruit juice or natural prickly pear juice
plants and seeds from your area for observation
Process skills: Observing, Measuring, Inferring, Experimenting, Formulating
Seeds are miracles of adaptation! Some float across oceans, fly across mountains, pass through the
bodies of animals unharmed, burn in forest fires, or lie inactive--waiting--for many years, waiting to grow. The nutrition
in seeds may provide for the new plant, or for animals and humans. Desert Seeds, adapted for the harsh, dry, unpredictable
desert climate, are good examples of the creative power of Nature.
Chia is a name given to a group of related plants
(species of Salvia and Hyptis) that have been eaten for centuries in the Southwest U.S. and Mexico. Today, chia seeds
are sold to make drinks having a jello-like consistency. Chia seeds are good sources of proteins and oils. They
can help reduce the levels of
cholesterol in our blood. Chia seeds contain a gel which protects against drying in
the desert. The gel helps slow down our digestion so that we can keep our blood sugar in balance. It can be helpful
in preventing or controlling diabetes and other diseases.
1. If you live in an
area where chia grows, collect and separate out the little seeds by crushing and winnowing the chaff, or buy a few ounces
of commercial seed.
2. Have everyone take a pinch of seeds and leave them in their mouths a few moments.
Do they seem to disappear? Do they feel slippery? Take one out on your finger and look closely. Check it
out with a magnifying lens. Can you see the envelop of clear slippery "jello" around the little seed?
The gel helps the seed keep enough water around it, when it rains, to get the little seed germinated. The stickiness
may help the seed "hitch a ride" on a leaf or twig floating down the arroyo so it can get planted in a new wet place.
Put fresh fruit (melons, apples, bananas, etc.) or drained fruit salad in a bowl and sprinkle chia seed all over it. Stir
gently. Add some fruit juice of prickly pear juice. Let set in bowl a few minutes to thicken. You may want
add more juice if it is very thick.
4. Have everyone get a serving for a snack of for dessert.
Compare the ingredients and the taste of "desert chia jello" with store-bought jello. Desert jello has no added sugar,
no artificial flavor or color, and it totally good for us.
check around your health
food stores or go to this link if you want to know where to find some in Tucson: