Chia seeds are the holy grail of health foods.
Case in point: A one-ounce serving of the tiny black seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of healthy fats, and a healthy dose of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B, and antioxidants—all for less than 130 calories.
And they’re not just for dieters and healthy eaters! Chia seeds are actually really fun to cook with, too. Dry, they’re similar to poppy seeds, but when soaked in liquid, they swell up like tapioca. Chia flour—made from pulverized chia seeds—is often used to replace eggs in vegan recipes.
In Central America and Mexico, there’s evidence that people have been throwing back chia since 2,600 BC. Chia even earned the nickname “running food” because warriors ate it for was fast energy before heading off to hunt or fight. Today, many marathoners rely on chia energy bars or homemade drinks to keep them going during long runs. In fact, a study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that chia seeds were just as effective for maintaining energy levels as Gatorade—and their higher nutrient content helped athletes recover more quickly.
And there are plenty of ways to use chia seeds beyond using them to garnish a smoothie or tapioca boba! Get inspired with these six recipes.
Frozen coconut chia pudding makes the creamy base of these unexpected gourmet popsicles. They taste like decadent ice cream, but with half the calories.
Increase the energy-boosting powers of chia by pairing it with earthy-flavored matcha tea for a slightly sweet breakfast porridge.
Classic thumbprints are reimagined as a raw, sugar-free, vegan cookie. For the filling, a mixture of raspberries, chia seeds, and honey mimics the consistency of store-bought jelly, without all the added sugar.
Blended into a smoothie, chia seeds totally disappear. Here, they stand in for heavy evaporated milk to recreate the thick consistency of pumpkin pie filling.
Chia seeds and maple-roasted almonds come together in a nut butter that’s perfect when spread over toast—or eaten by the spoonful.
Pulverized chia seeds are the star of our sugar- and dairy-free chocolate mousse, which is insanely easy to make when those late-night sugar cravings strike.
We’d love to hear how you cook with chia seeds! Share your favorite ideas and recipes in the comments below.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont