whole chia seed: gourmetsleuth.com
Chia is an American herb that dates back to the Aztecs. Learn about the uses, preparation and nutritional information.
Article by: Barbara Bowman
What Is Chia?
History And Origin
The Chia plant originated in America, specifically Mexico. The plant is in the same genus as European Sage (Salvia columbariae) known in Mexico as golden chia. This form of chia grows throughout the Southwestern U.S.
The variety grown in Mexico, and eaten by the Aztecs is Salvia Hispanica. Both warriors and commoners consumed chia as a staple food mostly in the form of a beverage or a cereal. 
Image by: pancrat/wikipedia
Whole chia seeds have faintly nutty taste. When added to liquid they form a soft gel, similar to the texture of tapioca pudding but with a decisive little crunch.
Chia is now a big player in the superfood scene. The seed is a complete protein, offers 11 grams of fiber per ounce and and is one of the best sources of Omega 3's (about 64% of its weight is Omega 3 fatty acids about the same as 9 oz of salmon). Equivalents: 1 tablespoon of chia seed = 12grams.
Chia, compared to flax seed, is very high in antioxidants and can be stored for much longer than flax seed (which typically goes rancid quickly). While flax seed should be ground before eating to facilitate digestion; chia can be eaten in its whole dried form.
Whole Chia Seed
Historically, Chia was one of the primary grains eaten in early Mexico. The chia was soaked in water and made into a type of gruel. The seeds were also mixed with the juice from fresh fruits and drank as a highly nutritious beverage. The gelled seeds are also made into a thickened pudding. Today whole seeds are used in cereal and granola mixtures.
Chia seed can be found in most health food stores. Whole Foods typically sells them in bulk. Shop around because they can run upwards of $16.00 per pound. At the time of this writing (May 2012) we found organic chia seed at Whole Foods market in the bulk foods section selling for $7.69lb.
Chia soaked in water will form a gel. The gel can be used to lubricate dryness. Other reported uses are to relieve constipation (a high source of fiber), "reduce nervousness, treat insomnia, and improve mental focus". Native Americans are said to have used chia as an "endurance food". 
Nutritional And Fiber Supplementation
Daily: Add 1 heaping tablespoon whole chia to water or juice (or sprinkle on food).
As chia mixes with liquid it becomes gelatinous. Make sure to consume chia with adequate amounts of water. If you have difficulty swallowing you should be cautious when consuming chia in its gelled form.
Traditional Chia Beverage Recipe
This recipe is by Rick Bayless from his book Authentic Mexican.
1 tablespoon dried chia seed
1 quart fresh water
1/2 cups (or more to taste) granulated sugar
1 fresh lime, juiced
Mix the chia seed in the water and allow to stand until the seeds swell and become gelatinous. This should take about 1 hour.
Stir in the sugar and the lime juice. Cover and refrigerate several hours until the seeds sink to the bottom. Stir the chilled mixture and serve in a tall glass over ice.