chia pet

Ch-ch-ch-chia. Did that phrase bring back memories of commercials singing about those beloved chia pets you could grow on your own at home? I can remember thinking it would be neat to grow my own chia pet but unfortunately I never convinced my parents to buy the As Seen On TV item.

The kids in the commercials looked like they were having so much fun trimming their chia pet “hair.” Thankfully, if you are like me, you finally have a chance to grow your own.

The N.C. Cooperative Extension Office is putting together chia kits for a Creative Chia Champion. Each kit will have a small bag with two tablespoons of chia seeds and an instruction sheet. We will not be providing any kind of planter though.

It is up to you to get as creative as you want on where you grow your chia seeds. Maybe you want to grow them in a regular planter on the windowsill. Or maybe you want to cover a basketball with chia seeds. The possibilities are endless.

Once your seeds have sprouted and you have a nice green sprouty item, snap a picture of your creation and post your photo to Facebook and tag the N.C. Cooperative Extension-Jackson County Facebook page or email the picture to ekmcclure@ncat.edu. We will announce the champion on Friday, Jan. 29.

This could be a fun activity to do with kids who are out of school on holiday break, or someone who is still working from home and would like to work out their green thumb. The best part is these are sprouting seeds, meaning you can eat your artwork.

Once your chia plant has sprouted you can trim the greens and add them to meals. Chia sprouts contain protein, fiber, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids and can be a great addition to salads, sandwiches or soups. Do not buy your own chia seeds and expect to be able to eat the sprouts without checking the label.

Some seeds are not intended to be consumed and therefore are treated with pesticides not suitable for ingesting. If you do choose to purchase your own chia seeds, you may grow on your own using these instructions.

1. Soak chia seeds and the object of your choice for 24 hours in water. This will allow the object to absorb water for the young seedlings. You will also notice a gel-like substance forming around the chia seeds. Chia seeds have tiny fibers which hold on to the water and allow it to slowly be released! If you are using soil, you do not have to soak the seeds, but can gently place them on the soil surface and keep them moist.

2. Cover your object with the chia gel and to keep the seeds from drying out, cover it loosely with a plastic bag. (This is like a tiny greenhouse!). Be careful not to let the bag touch the seeds!

3. After your seeds start sprouting, you can remove the bag and place your plant in a sunny spot. Observe how the seedlings will bend towards the light to help them produce food as they grow!

4. Make sure your seedlings don’t dry out by misting them with water if they look dry. You can also add water to the soil if you’re using it.

If you are interested in becoming a Creative Chia Champion call the Extension office at 586-4009 to make an appointment to pick up your kit. We will be giving out kits until we run out or until Dec. 18. We hope to see you and your creation soon. Let’s get creative! 

Emily McClure is a registered dietitian, Family and Consumer Sciences agent, Jackson County Extension. Email her at ekmcclure@ncat.edu.