Some World Next Door interns and fellows bring granola bars or individual peanut butter packets on trips. Not me. I bring a giant Ziploc full of 45 salmons, 200 ounces of fresh blueberries, 45 cups of spinach, 135 cups of milk, 450 grams of straight fiber, and a few steaks. How else am I supposed to get my omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, magnesium, iron, calcium, fiber and protein while I’m away?  And how did I manage to fit these things nicely into a Ziploc and remain shelf stable?!

Internet friends, meet chia. Chia, Internet friends.

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These seeds hold 12x their weight in water, have more omega-3 fatty acid ounce-per-ounce than salmon, twice the iron and magnesium as a cup of spinach, more antioxidants than blueberries, three times the calcium of skim milk, and 11 grams of fiber in one ounce. Maximum nutrients, minimal calories. Be still my heart.

After my last two WND trips, with diets consisting primarily of rice, potatoes and more rice and some bread, I decided to take matters of things like fiber into my own hands. One of my favorite sayings is Bring your fun with you, and I live by that especially when in a new foreign place with lots of waiting. I now have a second favorite saying to live by: Bring your own fiber with you.

BRK_7845I brought TWO POUNDS of chia seeds with me to Nepal—enough for two tablespoons per day—for those times when you just can’t order omega-3 fatty acids at the Mo Mo shop next door, or fiber at the noodle place. Two tablespoons of chia, and I’m all set for the day.

I prefer to soak them in lime water or juice, but some days I just chew them up and swallow. They have no real taste, and have the consistency of grits. If you’re tempted to cringe, think what ground up salmon tastes like. Not so bad, chia.

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About the Author: Brooke Hartman is a year-long journalism fellow with World Next Door. In her other life, she was a clinical social worker, counselor, and disaster mental health graduate from Tulane University in New Orleans. Her favorites are: creative writing, travel, photography, weather patterns, and eating dessert. Any cupcake, any time.

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