Chia Seeds Are Inspiration for New Southwestern Fettuccine Recipe

CHIA Fettuccine

Most Americans are probably familiar with chia pets—clay pots shaped like animals that you fill with chia seeds and water.  The chia seeds sprout and grow green “fur” on the clay pot.  Few people who own those chia pets, however, realize that chia seeds are not only edible—sprouted or not—but they’re also wonderful for your health.

The ancient Aztecs of Mexico began eating unsprouted chia seeds over 500 years ago. In the Mayan language, “chia” means “strength.” The tiny seeds come in white or black varieties and are native to Mexico and Guatemala.

Today, Mexicans drink chia frescas: chia seeds stirred into water or fruit juice. When soaked in liquid for an hour or so, chia seeds grow to many times their normal size and develop a jelly-like coating. It’s this ability to absorb liquid that makes chia seeds a filling snack. Because of their smooth coating post-soaking, the seeds are easy to drink. They are slightly similar to boba—small pearls of tapioca—which Asians drink in a milky cold tea, except that chia seeds have a slightly nutty flavor while boba are almost flavorless. Chia seeds are healthier, too. They are also great to add to rice and pasta dishes (see my Chia Fettuccine recipe below).

TS-475097869 Chia Seeds in bowl

I had read that chia seeds were nutritionally similar to flax seeds in that they were high in fiber, high in omega-3 oils, and good at lowering cholesterol, but I had put off experimenting with them until a friend of mine gave me a good reason to look more closely at these tiny seeds.

My Director of Nursing at one of my skilled nursing facilities has high cholesterol so she decided to stir chia seeds into her beverages every day for three months. Because chia seeds are full of fiber and omega-3 oils, they actually helped reduce her bad cholesterol levels. And she enjoyed drinking them. (See Dr. Mark Rosenberg’s articles about the pros and cons of chia seeds before you incorporate them into your diet on any regular basis).

After researching chia seeds for myself, I found a chia fan in Dr. Nicholas Perricone, M.D., who says in his book Forever Young, “The seeds of the chia plant (salvia hispanica L.) are a concentrated source of high-quality macronutrients required by the body: omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, high-quality complete protein without gluten, and low-glycemic carbohydrates.” It turns out that chia seeds are also very rich in antioxidants, calcium, omega-6 oil, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, and zinc. It may be that chia seeds help to slow the absorption of sugar by the body, which is good news for those with high blood sugar.

chia seed drinks317

So I decided I should try drinking chia seeds just like my Director of Nursing. She inspired me to come up with a chia-seed beverage recipe that I call Chia Frescas, which is featured in my AGE GRACEFULLY Cookbook. Chia seeds can absorb up to ten times their weight in water. It’s fun to watch them swell up and produce their characteristic jelly coating.

In my new book, The AGE BEAUTIFULLY Cookbook, I created a delicious new recipe for fettuccine with chia seeds. I think you’ll love it!

Chia Fettuccine with Southwestern Pork and Vegetables

Serves 4

Pasta infused with ground chia seeds is a bit chewier than traditional pasta but packs an extra nutritional punch. Pork, chiles, and Southwestern spices perfectly complement the taste and texture of this nutritionally dense fettuccine, but I have provided substitutions for ingredients that may be more available or familiar.


1 lb. sliced pork loin
1 tsp. salt or salt substitute
1 tsp. minced garlic
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. piment d’Espelette (or regular paprika or crushed red peppers)
4 Tbs. olive oil, divided in half
½ cup chopped red onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup sliced jalapeños
1 cup chopped pasilla chile (or 4 oz. canned green chiles or 15 oz. canned corn)
1½ cups fresh corn kernels
1 package (10 oz.) BonaChia Fettuccine (or regular pasta or brown rice)


¼ cup chopped scallions
2-4 Tbs. black or white chia seeds
4 Tbs. Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Mix the pork and the spices until evenly incorporated.
  2. In a cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, cook the meat in 2 Tbs. of the oil over medium heat for about

5 minutes, stirring often.

  1. Add the vegetables and remaining oil to the pan. Cook another 5 minutes.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Toss with the meat and vegetables.
  3. Garnish with the chopped scallions, Parmesan cheese (if using), and chia seeds.


Navitas Naturals sells organic chia seeds and chia powder online.

(Recipe reprinted from The Age Gracefully Cookbook: Easy and Exotic Longevity Secrets from Around the World by Grace O)


About Grace O

Grace O has been cooking and baking professionally and recreationally all of her adult life. As a child in Southeast Asia, she learned the culinary arts by her mother’s side in her family’s cooking school. She became so well versed in hospitality and the culinary arts, she eventually took over the cooking school and opened three restaurants. She is widely credited with popularizing shrimp on sugar-cane skewers and being one of the first culinarians to make tapas a global trend. She has cooked for ruling families and royalty. Grace O’s move to America precipitated a career in healthcare, inspired by her father, who was a physician. Twenty years and much hard work later, she operates skilled nursing facilities in California. Grace O strives to create flavorful food using the finest ingredients that ultimately lead to good health. Her recipes, although low in saturated fat, salt, and sugar, are high in flavor. Grace employs spices from all over the world to enliven her dishes, creating food that is different and delicious. She believes that food can be just as effective at fighting aging as the most expensive skin creams. And since she’s over 50 herself, she’s living proof of that.
What Do FoodTrients Do?
Ai Anti- inflammatories

Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.

Ao Anti- oxidant

Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.

IB Immunity Boosters

Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.

MB Mind

Improves mood, memory, and focus.

F Disease Prevention

Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.