With so many superfoods to choose from these days, it’s tough to pick a favorite, but chia seeds easily soar to the top of the list. Not only are chia seeds exceptionally versatile, they’re full of wholesome nutrients and health benefits. Eat them whole or ground, bake them into your next recipe, or blend in a smoothie. There are dozens of ways to enjoy these tiny but mighty seeds, and we’ve got 18 to share!
What Are Chia Seeds?
These small black seeds come from the desert plant salvia hispanica (commonly known as “chia”). This plant is native to Mexico and Guatemala and part of the mint family. But what makes chia seeds especially unique? Not only do they have the highest plant content of omega-3 fatty acids, but they swell to nine times their original size when swallowed or added to liquid.
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
It’s believed that ancient Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds as a source of energy or an offering to the gods, and for good reason: Chia seed nutrition benefits are plentiful, helping to support muscles and deliver protein, fiber, and key vitamins.
A 2-tablespoon serving provides:
- 11 grams of fiber
- 4 grams of protein
- 20% of your recommended daily value of calcium
How to Use Chia Seeds
How do we love chia seeds, let us count the ways! Perhaps what we adore most is how versatile these super seeds really are, depending on your preparation method. Here are a few ways to enjoy them:
Soaked: Hydrated chia seeds help you feel full longer, which is why soaking them before eating is a smart step. Soaked chia seeds form a gel that’s great for cooking or incorporating into beverages. Just add one part seeds to nine parts water and soak for 30 minutes.
- Whole: Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds can be digested whole. Sprinkle some atop yogurt for added crunch, incorporate them into your next muffin mix, or soak them in almond milk to make chia pudding or overnight chia oats.
- Ground: Ground chia seeds can be used to thicken soups, smoothies, or gravies while adding a nutritional boost, too.
5 Clever Things to Do With Chia Seeds
As if we needed more reasons to celebrate this nutrient-rich staple, here are a few more surprising ways to use chia seeds.
- Egg replacer: Since chia seeds form a gel when absorbing liquid, they make a great egg substitute in baking recipes.
- Breadcrumb swap: Elevate everyday breadcrumbs by mixing in chia seeds for healthier (and heartier) meatballs or breaded fish and chicken.
- Add to energy bars: Give your energy bars added fuel by incorporating chia seeds into the mix. Not only will you add crunch, but the extra fiber will help keep you full.
- Grind chia seed flour: If you’re going gluten-free, ground chia seeds can be used in place of all-purpose flour when baking.
- Make jam: Remember when we said chia seeds form a gel when hydrated? This makes them an excellent addition to jams and jellies. Just add a tablespoon to berries, warm water, and sweetener in a food processor, and you’ll be jamming out in no time.
10 Chia Seed Recipes
Ready to get cooking with chia seeds? Check out our 10 favorite recipes.
Not all smoothies have to be served chilled. This recipe is heated over the stove and includes a nutritious blend of rolled oats, almond butter, cacao creamer, and is topped with (you guessed it) chia seeds.
Chia sangria? No way, rosé! This chia seed drink takes sparkling wine to the next level with dragon fruit, ginger beer, and Mamma Chia Cherry Beet Squeeze.
You can’t go wrong with luscious layers of rich chocolate chia mousse, vanilla chia pudding, and mashed bananas. Top with banana slices, shredded coconut, and cacao nibs for a presentation that looks as good as it tastes.
Talk about a matcha made in dessert heaven! This quick and easy treat delivers a dose of antioxidants, healthy fats, and a little energy boost with matcha powder.
We promise we’re not pudding you on when we say this recipe is a total home run. Tangy apricot sauce combines with comforting coconut chia seed pudding for a perfectly balanced bite.
Don’t let the name fool you, these truffle-like treats have the same decadent texture of a chocolatey brownie but half the guilt thanks to a black bean and coconut oil base and crunchy chia seed coating.
With chia seeds, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and even fermented maca powder, there’s no shortage of superfoods in this crave-worthy chocolate bark.
We’re raisin the bar on snacking with a hearty combo of seedless raisins, coconut chips, mixed nuts, chia seeds, and raw honey for the perfect grab-and-go fuel.
You’re never too old for popsicles, especially when they’re made from blueberries simmered in balsamic and added to creamy chia seed coconut milk.
Rock and roll with these three non-dairy cashew cheese log recipes. Go sweet with dried cranberries and cherries. Get a little nutty with walnuts and pecans. Or, opt for a seedy take with pumpkin, sunflower, and chia seeds. We recommend trying all three!