organic vegetarian meals for the trail

Backpacking Superfoods: Chia Seed

chia seeds

Chia seeds are loaded with extensive value for the lightweight backpacker. They require little space, no cooking, are high in calories, omega-3, dietary fiber, phosphorous, and calcium. 

Chia Seed Energy Content: 140 Calories per 1.0 oz (28.35 g) or 2 TB

Preparation: You can eat chia seeds raw, or sprout them. To eat the seeds: hydrate the seeds in cold water or sprinkle the seeds directly on dishes. To hydrate the seeds: add 1 part chia to 4 parts water and rest about 10 minutes. As it soaks in the water, the chia will soften and form a gel-like consistency.

Direct from Nature: raw, no additives, non-GMO, gluten-free, lactose-free, soy-free, corn-free, animal-free, cruelty-free.

You’ll get a cleaner “energy rush” from chia than those so-called energy drinks & supplements – without the caffeine or chemicals!

 Chia as a Super Food

Thanks to the popularity of the sprouted “Chia Pet” clay planter, many of us are familiar with chia. But, chia seed warrants a reputation as a superfood instead of a lowly sprouted window ornament. Chia seeds are tiny (about 1-2 mm) and packed inside the amazingly minuscule seed, are vital nutrients that provide sustained energy. The seeds are extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids (approximately 64% of the oil) and have the highest antioxidant activity of any whole food known today. Chia helps to build muscle and tissue, prolong endurance, and provide extensive hydration due to its ability to absorb more than 12 times its weight in water. In fact, chia seed was one of the primary foods used by the Aztecs for hiking long distances.

Chia seed is gelatinous, producing an easily assimilable saccharide gel when exposed to water. This is beneficial for hikers because it slows the digestive process, providing an extended energy release.

If kept dry, chia seeds store well on the shelf long-term – up to 3 years at room temperature. Due to the high level of antioxidants in chia, the seed will not turn rancid like other fatty seeds (such as flax seed), lose flavor, or degrade the nutritional content. Clearly, chia seed serves as a powerful raw survival food!

Chia has a mild flavor so you can add it to various dishes without altering the taste. Sprinkle seeds on breakfast cereals or mix in liquids, shakes, puddings, sauces, etc.  Both chia seed and their sprouts are edible. Outdoor Herbivore offers several no-cook chia seed meals.

chia oat crunch
Pictured: Chia Oat Crunch, a breakfast cereal with soaked oats and chia with chunky flavors of organic banana, walnuts, and sunflower seed.


Many websites claim Chia has 3-5 times the calcium of milk, but when we researched the facts we could not affirm this claim.  Nonetheless, it is high in calcium.

Comparison Chia Seed to Whole Powdered Cow’s Milk (1 Oz)

Nutrient Dry Milk Whole 1 oz (4 TB) Dry Chia Seed 1 oz (2 TB)
Energy (kcal) 141 139
Protein (g) 7 4
Fat, total (g) 8 9
Sugar, total (g) 11 0
Carbohydrates (g) 11 12
Fiber, total (g) 0 11
Calcium (mg) 259 179
Phosphorus (mg) 220 269
Potassium (mg) 377 45
Sodium (mg) 105 5
Zinc (mg) 1 1
Monounsaturated, Fat total (g) 2 1
Polyunsaturated, Fat total (g) 2 7
Saturated Fat, total (g) 5 1
Cholesterol (mg) 27 0

Source of Data:

Chia seeds for Backpacking

Few raw foods contain the amount of energy and nutrient content by weight than the chia seed. Try them for your next backpacking trip. They’ve become one of Outdoor Herbivore’s favorite backpacking food staples.

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