With excitement building for the Sept. 14 second annual Press Run 1K, 5K and 10K sponsored by The Galveston County Daily News, some participants are developing a runner’s mindset about nutrition and exercise.

Runners don’t usually set food trends, though they often benefit from new research such as the studies that have shown chocolate milk is one of the best recovery drinks after exercise.

One instance when runners actually were out ahead of the pack nutritionally happened about five years ago when runners were among the first to discover the health benefits of chia seeds.

The best-selling book “Born to Run” described how an Indian tribe in Mexico achieved superhuman feats of endurance running by nibbling on chia seeds. A few handfuls of the tiny seeds fueled the Tarahumara runners as they covered 50 miles of rocky terrain.

Fortunately, the Press Run won’t require any superhuman abilities beyond being able to walk or run 3 miles and wanting to support Newspapers In Education, a program that provides classroom teachers with newspapers and guidance on using them to teach social studies, math, history and other subjects at all grade levels.

Still, most of us could benefit from better nutrition, and many nutritionists are recommending chia as one of the superfoods for healthy living.

Chia seeds are one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 fatty acids, a key component in reducing inflammation throughout the body and maintaining heart health. The tiny seeds actually have more omega-3 essential fatty acids per serving than salmon or other cold-water fish.

With more calcium per ounce than skim milk, adding chia seeds to daily servings of oatmeal, baked goods or other food is a good way for those who don’t like dairy products to get the calcium needed for strong bones. Chia seeds can be eaten raw, soaked in water or juice to form a thick drink or added to fruit salads, wraps or salads.

One of the biggest nutritional benefits of chia is that it is a concentrated source of fiber. The average American diet only contains 12 to 15 grams of fiber per day, far short of the 20-35 grams recommended by the American Dietetic Association. An ounce of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, making it easy to double daily fiber consumption.

As more nutritional benefits have emerged, the number of foods containing chia has exploded. Once found only at natural-food stores, chia products are now available in most of the area’s supermarkets. Many of the brands, such as Mamma Chia, offer a variety of fruit flavors in drinks, bars or gels. Several cereals also tout their recent addition of chia seeds.

Not everyone is a fan of the texture of chia drinks and gels since the seeds absorb water and develop into a tapioca-like gelatinous substance. Adding the seeds to pancakes or brownies or sprinkling on peanut butter in a sandwich might be easier introductions to chia seeds.

With the Press Run only 10 days away, will chia seeds be the secret ingredient propelling runners and walkers across the finish line?

Perhaps, but it’s more likely that the fun of participating, the view from the top of the Galveston Causeway and the chance to support Newspapers In Education will be even stronger motivators.

Chia Pancakes

MAKES: 8-10 pancakes

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1⁄2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 11⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds, plus more for garnish
  • Syrup or other desired toppings
  • Spray skillet or griddle with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.

Beat the egg with a fork and add the milk and oil.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, oats, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt.

Slowly stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Add the honey and stir until combined.

Just before cooking, stir in the chia seeds. Cook the pancakes in batches, 1⁄4 cup of batter per pancake.

Cook the pancakes until the edges of the pancakes start to bubble and the bottoms are light brown.

Flip the pancake and cook until the centers are completely done, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Top the pancakes with syrup, additional chia seeds or fruit.

(SOURCE: Recipe courtesy AZ Chia Co.)

Overnight Oatmeal


  • 1⁄2 cup rolled oats
  • 1⁄3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1⁄2 cup milk or milk alternative
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1⁄4 cup raisins
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight.

(SOURCE: Recipe courtesy Chosen Foods, San Diego)

Lemon-chia Seed Salad Dressing

MAKES: 3⁄4 cup

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or substitute
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

 Zest the lemon into a mixing bowl until you have 4 tablespoons. Add the mayonnaise and whisk. Add the sugar and whisk again. Add the Dijon mustard and whisk again. Add the chia seeds and whisk again.

Pour the dressing over a salad and sprinkle with additional chia seeds.

(SOURCE: Recipe courtesy AZ Chia Co.)


(1) comment

Steve Fouga

Simply blending chia seeds into a smoothie is a good way to use them. They get lost in all the other stuff and their gelatinous texture goes unnoticed.

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