Are chia seeds good for you? Yes, chia seeds are tiny nutritional powerhouses that are so easy to include in your everyday diet.
Just 100 grams (or eight tablespoons) of chia seeds contain 16.5 grams of protein and 34.4 grams of fiber, according to the USDA FoodData Central database. They are known for being a good source of omega-three fatty acids and for containing minerals vital to bone health, such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
Chia seeds come from a plant belonging to the mint family called Salvia hispanica. It originates in Central America where it’s said that chia seeds were a staple of the Aztec diet. In the southwestern United States, a relative of the plant called golden chia (Salvia columbariae) was used by Native Americans of the region.
Another pro of chia seeds is the fact that they’re flavorless and easy to include in most recipes. Here are 25 versatile ways to eat chia seeds.
1. Chia Water
Perhaps the simplest way of consuming chia seeds is adding them to water. Soak a ¼ cup of chia seeds in four cups of water for about 20 minutes. The chia seeds will expand in the water to create a slightly thickened but nutritious water you can add a little citrus to for flavor.
2. Chia Juice
If you prefer citrus-based drinks, you can also soak chia seeds in various fruit juices. Add ¼ cup of chia seeds to four cups of your preferred fruit juice for about 20 minutes. Depending on the juice you select, your beverage may include added sugars.
3. Chia Seed Smoothie
You can include chia seeds in any smoothie, whether you prefer a green goddess smoothie or a strawberry banana smoothie. Presoak the chia seeds in a little water or milk to make a gel before adding them to the smoothie.
4. Fresh Chia Seed Toppings
Chia seeds also make a great topping to casseroles, salads or oatmeal. You can garnish dishes with the whole fresh seeds or grind them up.
5. Chia Pudding
One popular and well-known dessert is chia pudding. You can eat it for breakfast or as a dessert.
Start making chia pudding with the same recipe you’d use for chia seed water, but add more seeds until you reach the preferred thickness. Let the mixture soak for 40 minutes or more.
Many people prefer using milk and adding cocoa, vanilla and other flavors. You can also blend the mixture for a smoother consistency.
6. Chia Cereal
Swap your typical cereal for chia cereal, made by soaking chia seeds overnight in milk or a milk substitute. You can use mashed bananas or applesauce instead. Mix this with your usual cereal or eat the chia mixture as you would with cereal, including nuts, fruit or spices.
7. Chia Truffles
Make chia truffles as a quick snack by combining them with oats, cocoa and dates. You can also include other grains, nuts and fruits in the mixture.
8. Added to Stir-Fry
Add a tablespoon of chia seeds to your favorite stir fry dish, such as this sauteed cabbage with chia seeds.
9. Sprinkled on a Salad
Sprinkle chia seeds on nearly any salad to make it even healthier and add more texture. Mix them in while tossing the salad or before serving.
10. Dressed up Salad Dressing
Dress up your salad dressing with chia seeds. Since many commercial salad dressings contain added sugar, consider making your own salad dressing and adding the chia seeds.
11. Baked in Bread
Include chia seeds in your bread recipes, from banana to buckwheat.
12. Chia Seed Breading
Use ground chia seeds mixed with your favorite breadcrumb coating to bread fish, meat, or vegetables. You can also use only ground chia seeds as breading.
13. Chia Seed Cakes
Improve the nutritional value of your cake recipe by adding chia seeds to the cake mix.
14. Chia Seed Grains
Soaked chia seeds can be a little too gooey, but you can change up the texture by mixing them with other grains. Include them in breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert recipes that make use of grains. Add a teaspoon of chia seeds to one cup of your preferred grain.
15. Chia Seed Breakfast Bars
Some commercial breakfast bars can have as much sugar as a candy bar. By making your own, you can cut down the sugar and improve the nutritional profile by adding chia seeds.
16. Chia Seed Protein Bars
Similarly, commercial protein bars can be high in sugar content. Consider making your own protein bars with chia seeds at home to boost the nutritional content and avoid a sugar crash.
17. Chia Seed Pancakes
Add a delicious and nutritious texture to your pancakes with flecks of chia seeds in the batter.
18. Chia Seed Jam
Pectin is a little bitter, so jam makers usually add sugar to make up for this. To reduce sugar in your jam, substitute chia seeds for pectin, since they can absorb ten times their dry weight in water.
19. Chia Seed Cookies
Chia seeds add a nutritional boost to chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal alike.
20. Thickening Gravy or Soup
Tired of using flour to thicken soup or gravy? Honestly, if you don’t get the temperature and amount just right, you risk having random clumps of flour ruin a perfectly good dish.
21. Egg Substitute for Binding and Baking
Do your dietary needs prevent you from cooking with eggs? You can use chia seeds as an egg substitute to replace eggs in baking, and you can use them as a binder. To make one “chia egg,” soak a tablespoon of chia seeds in three tablespoons of water.
22. Chia Seed Dip
As a versatile ingredient, you can also mix chia seeds into dip. Make your own dip, or add a homemade and nutritional spin to a store-bought dip by adding chia seeds.
23. Chia Seed Muffins
You can eat muffins as a delicious treat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Add chia seeds to both sweet and savory muffins.
24. Chia Seed Yogurt
Chia seeds add texture as yogurt topping when added whole, or to avoid a “crunch,” use ground chia seeds.
25. Chia Seed Ice Cream
Similarly, you can ground or whole chia seeds to any flavor of ice cream before serving it.