Chia seeds are known for more than just creating chia pets. They consistently top annual food trend lists because they are nutritional powerhouses. There are many ways to use chia seeds in your cooking that will boost the overall nutritional value of your plate!
I remember when I first heard about chia seeds as a food trend years ago, I was a little concerned. For all I knew, they were meant for one purpose. To grow the furry things that kids are fascinated with — chia pets.
But as the term “superfood” has been embraced by the health and wellness community, this superfood has moved from the hobby aisle to the grocery aisles.
What exactly are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are edible seeds that date back to the times of the Aztecs and Mayans. “Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” Even though they were a staple in history, they seemed to get lost along the way until getting discovered in more recent years for the superfood that they are.
These seeds are crunchy by themselves, but when in contact with liquid, they absorb up to 8x their weight in liquid creating a gel-like coating on the outside. This makes them easier to digest, and is also a reason why you should soak them before consuming in large quantities.
The Nutritional Breakdown of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have been known to be one of the healthiest in the world. But, why?
Their size is deceiving when you break down the macronutrients found in just one ounce (2 tablespoons) of chia seeds:
- 11g Fiber
- 4g Protein
- 9g Fats (5g of omega 3s)
But wait. There’s more!
These superfood whole grains contain 20% of your daily calcium needs. They are also a great source of manganese, magnesium and phosphorus, and also contain a high amount of antioxidants. Almost all of the carbohydrates are in the form of fiber, which is optimal for digestion and gut health.
How to Use Chia Seeds in Cooking
There are many different ways to incorporate these into your diet.
They can be sprinkled on yogurt, oatmeal or salads. Incorporated into smoothies, homemade granola bars or energy bites. They can be mixed with liquid to create a chia gel-like drink.
They can also be used as an egg replacement. To make a chia egg, combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 2.5 tablespoons of water, mix, and set aside to gel. Chia eggs can replace eggs in many ways, even baking recipes.
Because of their ability to absorb liquid, chia seeds can also be used to thicken soups or sauces, as long as you don’t mind a slight change in texture.
One of the most common ways to start incorporating this superfood into your diet is with chia pudding. This is a great breakfast or snack to have on hand that is satisfying and will keep you full for hours. I’ve included a basic recipe to start with, but get creative with your own flavor pairings!Print
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon slivered almonds
- blueberries for topping
- Combine the first three ingredients in a small bowl or resealable container (I used a mason jar) and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight to allow the chia seeds to do their thing (absorbed the liquid and created a creamy, thick texture).
- When ready to eat, top with almonds and blueberries, drizzle with honey.
*To make this a coconut banana chia seed pudding, use coconut milk instead of almond milk and top with sliced bananas and toasted coconut!
*Because you will probably be craving more throughout the week, it is easy to multiply the recipe to have on hand throughout the week. Simply combine the desired amount of chia seeds and liquid ingredients in an airtight container, store in the refrigerator, and add toppings when ready to serve.
Looking for even more recipes?
- Raspberry Chia Dark Chocolate Pudding Parfait
- Dark Chocolate Espresso Chai Pudding Parfait with Peanut Butter Mousse
- Coconut Chia Pudding with Matcha Coconut Whipped Cream
- Gluten-Free Almond Berry Waffles with Chia Jam
- Mango Coconut Chia Pudding (Vegan)
- Chocolate Covered Strawberry Chia Seed Pudding (Vegan)