By Luke Doyle, Budget Direct
A healthy lifestyle is fueled by nutrient-rich foods that give your body the energy it needs. But some of these foods come with high calorie counts and the "healthy" label doesn't mean it's okay to consume unlimited amounts of them.
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They're a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and some minerals essential for bone health, including calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Chia seeds are tiny yet extremely nutritious.Shutterstock
Chia seeds are also flavorless, making them easy to add to many foods and recipes.
This article shows you 35 fun and creative ways to incorporate chia seeds into your diet.
1. Chia Water
One of the simplest ways to include chia seeds in your diet is to add them to water.
To make chia water, soak 1/4 cup (40 grams) of chia seeds in 4 cups (1 liter) of water for 20–30 minutes.
To give your drink some flavor, you can add chopped fruit or squeeze in a lemon, lime or orange.
2. Juice-Soaked Chia
Water isn't the only liquid you can soak these seeds in.
Add 1/4 cup (40 grams) of chia seeds to 4 cups of fruit juice (1 liter) for half an hour to make a fruit juice that's full of fiber and minerals.
3. Chia Pudding
You can make chia pudding similar to chia water. For a thicker pudding texture, add more chia seeds and let the mixture soak longer.
You can make this pudding with juice or milk and then include flavorings such as vanilla and cocoa like in this recipe.
Chia pudding makes a delicious dish that can be eaten for breakfast or as a dessert.
If you don't like the texture of the seeds in the pudding, try blending it to give it a smoother finish.
4. Chia in Smoothies
If you want to make your smoothie even more nutritious, then add some chia seeds.
You can add chia seeds to almost any smoothie recipe by soaking them to make chia gel before adding them to your favorite smoothie.
5. Raw Chia Toppings
Although many people prefer to soak chia seeds before they eat them, you can eat them raw too.
Try grinding them up and sprinkling them on your smoothie or oatmeal.
6. Chia Cereal
To try something a little different for breakfast, you could swap your usual cereal for chia cereal.
To make chia cereal, soak the seeds overnight in milk (or a milk substitute like almond milk) and top it with nuts, fruit or spices like cinnamon.
This recipe uses mashed banana, milk and vanilla extract to make a delicious morning treat.
7. Chia Truffles
If you're often in a hurry, you can use chia seeds to make a great on-the-go snack.
For a quick and easy homemade snack, try chia truffles like these.
These recipes are often "no bake," so they can be really quick and easy to make.
8. In a Stir Fry
You can also add chia seeds to savory dishes like stir fries.
Just add a tablespoon of seeds to your favorite stir-fry recipe, like this one.
9. Added to a Salad
Chia seeds can be added to your salad to give it some texture and a healthy boost.
The seeds can be added to any salad. Simply mix them in with your salad leaves and add your favorite salad vegetables.
10. In Salad Dressing
Another way to include chia in your salad is to add chia seeds to your salad dressing.
Commercially prepared salad dressings are often loaded with sugar. Making your own salad dressing can be a much healthier way to make your salad taste delicious.
Try this homemade lemon and chia dressing.
11. Baked in Bread
It's possible to add chia seeds to all sorts of recipes, including bread.
This recipe uses chia seeds with buckwheat to make a tasty, healthy bread.
12. As a Crispy Crumb Coating for Meat or Fish
Another fun way to use chia seeds is as a coating for meat and fish.
They can be ground up into a fine powder and mixed in with your usual bread crumb coating or used as a complete substitute, depending on your preference.
13. Baked in Cakes
Cakes are usually high in fat and sugar. However, adding chia seeds can help improve their nutritional profiles.
Adding chia seeds to your cake mix will boost the fiber, protein and omega-3 content.
14. Mixed with Other Grains
If you don't like the gooey texture of chia seeds, you can mix them with other grains.
You don't need a fancy recipe for this. Simply mix a tablespoon of seeds with a cup of rice or quinoa.
15. In Breakfast Bars
Breakfast bars can be very high in sugar. In fact, some cereal bars contain as much sugar as a candy bar.
However, cutting back on the sugar and making your own healthy bar is quite easy. Chia seeds can also make a nutritious addition to your recipe.
16. In Pancakes
If you like pancakes then you could try adding chia seeds to your pancake mix.
17. In Jam
Chia seeds can absorb ten times their dry weight in water, which makes them a great substitute for pectin in jam.
Pectin is quite bitter, so substituting pectin with chia seeds means that your jam won't need a lot of added sugar to make it taste sweet.
Better yet, chia jam is much easier to make than traditional jam. Try this blueberry and chia jam spread, with no refined sugar.
18. Baked in Cookies
If you love cookies, then chia seeds can give your cookie recipe a nutritional boost.
19. Chia Protein Bars
Like breakfast bars, many commercially prepared protein bars can be high in refined sugar and look more like a candy bar than a healthy snack.
Making your own chia-based protein bar is a healthy alternative to the ones you can buy at the store.
There are even some low-carb friendly options, such as this one here.
20. In Soup or Gravy
Chia seeds can be a great replacement for flour when thickening stews or gravies.
Simply pre-soak the seeds to form a gel and mix it in to add thickness.
21. As an Egg Substitute
If your dietary requirements or preferences mean that you avoid eggs, then chia seeds can help. They make a fantastic substitute for eggs in baked goods.
To substitute for 1 egg, soak 1 tablespoon of chia seeds in 3 tablespoons of water.
22. Added to Dips
Chia seeds are versatile to cook with and can pretty much be added to any dip.
You can add them into homemade dip recipes like this one or you can stir them into your favorite store-bought version.
23. Baked in Homemade Muffins
Muffins are often eaten for breakfast or dessert, depending on their ingredients.
However, it doesn't matter if you're making a sweet or savory muffin, as chia seeds can be added into both.
24. In Oatmeal
Adding chia seeds to oatmeal is one way of eating them that requires very little effort.
Simply prepare your oatmeal and stir in a tablespoon of whole or ground chia seeds.
25. In Yogurt
Chia seeds can make a great yogurt topping.
If you like a bit of texture, sprinkle them on the top whole or if you want to avoid the crunch, then mix in ground chia seeds.
26. To Make Crackers
Adding seeds to crackers isn't a new idea. In fact, lots of crackers contain seeds to give them extra texture and crunch.
Adding chia seeds to your crackers is a good way to include them in your diet.
27. As a Thickener for Homemade Burgers and Meatballs
If you use eggs or breadcrumbs to bind and thicken meatballs and burgers, you could consider trying chia seeds instead.
Try using 2 tablespoons of seeds per pound of meat in your usual meatball recipe.
28. As a Homemade Energy Gel
Athletes looking for a homemade alternative to commercially produced energy gels could consider using a chia alternative.
You can buy chia seed-based gels or make your own using a recipe like this one.
29. Added to Tea
Adding chia seeds to drinks is an easy way to include them in your diet.
Add a teaspoon into your tea and let them soak for a short time. Initially they might float, but eventually they should sink.
30. To Make Tortillas
Soft tortillas can be eaten with a variety of fillings and are a delicious way to enjoy chia seeds.
You can make your own like these or some stores carry them pre-made.
31. In Ice Cream or Ice Cream Pops
Chia seeds can also be added to your favorite treats like ice cream.
32. To Make a Pizza Base
Chia seeds can be used to make a high-fiber, slightly crunchy pizza crust.
Simply make a chia seed-based dough like this one and add your toppings.
33. To Make Falafel
Falafel made with chia seeds can be a delicious and fun way to cook with chia seeds, especially for vegans and vegetarians.
You can combine them with a variety of vegetables for flavor. Try this recipe.
34. In Homemade Granola
Making granola is really simple. You can use any mixture of seeds, nuts and oats you like. This easy recipe includes chia seeds.
If you don't have time to make your own granola, there are plenty of chia seed-based granolas you can buy.
35. In Homemade Lemonade
Another interesting way to drink chia seeds is in homemade lemonade.
Soak 1.5 tablespoons (20 grams) of the seeds in 2 cups (480 ml) of cold water for a half hour. Then add the juice from one lemon and the sweetener of your choice.
You can also experiment with adding extra flavors like cucumber and watermelon.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.