10 Innovative Chia Products

Chia, the super nutritious seed that’s full of omega-3s, protein, fiber and calcium, has officially leaped from obscurity to the forefront of natural products innovation. Chia was everywhere at Natural Products Expo West 2012, holding its own as a stand-alone ingredient and mixed into everything from chips and bread to energy drinks and smoothies.

1. Chia Chargers Be Kind nut butters

Why settle for peanuts when you can crunch on more nutritious chia seeds? New York Superfoods’ Chia Chargers Be Kind nut butters blend in chia for a distinctive texture and appearance, boosted with flavors like chocolate, paprika, and coffee. These tasty spreads also garnered a Delicious Living/Natural Foods Merchandiser Editor’s Choice Award.

2. The Chia Company chia oil

I’m a fan of this company’s traceability program; they grow, harvest, and produce all of their chia products themselves (and also won an Editor’s Choice Award). The clean-tasting oil makes a nice, vegan alternative to fish oil (and tastes way better), and unlike flaxseed oil, chia oil is so antioxidant-rich that it keeps well without refrigeration. I predict we’ll see more chia oil showing up in natural products across the board.

3. Chia\Vie

The latest in drinkable chia (a category paved by Mamma Chia), these tasty smoothies use ground rather than whole chia seeds for a less-gummy texture. You also get two servings of fruit per serving (my favorite is the Mango-J)-and zero added sugar. Lightweight, eco-friendly aluminum bottles are cool, too.

4. Nature’s Path Love Crunch Granola and Chia Plus Coconut Chia Granola

Chia is clearly on the rise in the extensive Nature’s Path product line. The Love Crunch Apple Crumble premium granola features these great seeds, as does the soon-to-be-released Chia Plus line. At Expo West, Nature’s Path also unveiled its new and lovely packaging; the thinner boxes reduce waste.

5. Navitas Naturals Citrus Chia Power Snacks

Navitas Naturals’ nutrient-dense nuggets are a refreshing change from energy bars, perfect when I want just a bite. Packed with chia as well as tasty dates, cacao, maca, and camu-camu for energy on the go, they’re also raw, vegan, certified organic and gluten free.

6. Nutiva Chia

Change your world, indeed. Nutiva, an early and stalwart champion of earth-friendly, healthy eating, took an early lead in introducing forgotten superfoods like hemp, coconut, and now chia. Its certified organic chia seed is the real deal: good for you, good for the planet.

7. NuttZo nut butter

Created by a mom with two adopted kids with nutrient deficiencies, this yummy, crunchy spread contains no peanuts at all, but rather a blend of seven nutrient-dense nuts, including chia, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseeds. A fantastic way to get omega-3s and animal-free protein into kids.

8. Salba Chia Snacks

I’m so happy that Salba just updated its packaging; now the chips are in cool-looking and, bonus, compostable bags. They’re full of protein-rich Salba, their proprietary version of chia. Super tasty and still one of my favorite chia chips.

9. Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery Chia Chia bread

Awesome: a gluten-free, certified organic bread that’s naturally fortified with chia. For anyone on a gluten-free diet, this is truly a boon, because early gluten-free breads lacked in the nutrient department. A slice of this gives you 6g fiber and 3g protein. And the taste and texture: yum

10. WingFoot Iskiate Chia Drink Mix

Wingfoot takes chia back to its roots as the ancient “running food” of the athletic Aztecs; a spoonful was said to sustain a warrior for an entire day. Simply mix one of these vitamin-C-enhanced powder packets with water, chug it down, and you’ve got yourself sustained energy without caffeine.

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