Of the Salvia hispanica plant, chia seeds may be teeny-tiny, but they sure pack a lot of nutrition into their small stature. One ounce of chia seeds (the equivalent of two tablespoons) is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Native to Mexico and Guatemala, chia seeds have long history as a super food. As far back as 3500 BC, chia seeds were an important dietary staple for the Aztec civilization and were equally valued as a food source as well as a medicine. And indeed, in modern times chia seeds have been shown to possess numerous health benefits.
How To Eat Chia Seeds:
Slightly nutty in flavor, chia seeds are so mild that they can be added to many recipes without much change in the overall taste. Though they can be eaten as is, there is some debate over the best way to increase chia seed bioavailability. To get the most nutrition from these little seeds, you may want to grind them up or pre-soak them before including them in your meals:
Chia seeds are hydrophilic, absorbing up to 12 times their volume when placed in water. For this reason, it is believed that chia seeds can help with weight loss since they expand in the stomach and keep you feeling full. That said, eating a spoonful of chia seeds and chasing it down with a glass of water can cause some serious gastrointestinal discomfort, but pre-soaking the seeds is an easy way to prevent bloating and belly aches. To pre-soak, add ¼ cup of chia seeds to 1 cup of water and let them soak for at least 30 minutes. Soaking chia seeds causes them break down and become gelatin-like, which is perfect for using them in puddings and other wet foods.
Using a coffee grinder or a pestle, pulverize chia seeds to create a fine powder. This method is best for dry foods and baked goods.
Not sure what to do with these mottled black seeds? Fortunately they can easily be incorporated into breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks, desserts, and drinks. Because chia seeds act as a binder, they’re great as an egg substitute. When wet, their gelatinous quality makes them an effective thickening agent. And since they’re practically flavorless, they can give many meals a much-needed nutritional boost.
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Here Are 20 Of Our Favorite Ways To Use Chia Seeds:
Entirely dairy-free, this dessert (or breakfast!) requires no cooking. Just blend, whisk, and refrigerate.
Combining the nutritional power of chia and flaxseed, these pancakes are far healthier than the standard version, especially when you include a generous topping of fresh fruit.
Eaten on its own, with milk, or as a topping for Greek yogurt, cinnamon chia seed granola is a healthful snack that only takes about 15 minutes to prepare.
4. Energy Bombs
Chock full of protein, fiber, and several super foods, these energy bombs are a snap to make and will keep you go-go-going throughout the day.
Chocolate and peanut butter can hide practically any flavor, which allows some stealthy protein additions like tofu, spinach, and kale.
Quick and easy, this jam takes only 5 minutes to cook on the stovetop.
7. Chia Fresca
A popular beverage in Mexico and South America, this recipe is pretty much homemade lemonade, but with the wonderful crunchy addition of chia seeds.
While the base salad (baby spinach, apple, pomegranate, avocado, feta cheese, and almonds) is already quite delish, the salad dressing is the real standout here and can be used to top so many different mixes of greens.
A healthier pizza crust to be sure, you can use this chia infused dough to make flatbreads too.
Using chia, flaxseeds, parmesan cheese, and a mix of spices for the breading, a flour-less chicken nugget like no other.
First rubbed with salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, and sriracha, salmon filets are then coated with a layer of chia seeds to give it a delectable crunchy texture.
12. Chia Meatballs
You’d never know that hidden within these savory meatballs is the amazing chia seed, used as a binder instead of eggs and grains.
An ancient grain that is easier to digest than wheat, spelt flour is combined with chia seeds, dried fruit, and nuts to create a nutty and sweet bread.
A mixture of coconut milk, almond milk, shredded coconut, raspberries, chia seeds, and a sweetener of your choice, this is a sweet treat that is practically guilt-free.
15. Chia Yogurt
A vegan recipe for yogurt lovers, this homemade non-dairy yogurt is made with almonds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and a dash of probiotics.
A twist on the classic, this popcorn is first drizzled with maple syrup and coconut oil and then tossed in sugar, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and nutmeg. Bake for 20 minutes until caramelized.
Moist and decadent, these chocolate chip cookies are eggless because of the binding power of chia seeds.
19. Chia Seed Gravy
Since chia seeds work so well as a thickener, they can be used to boost the nutritional profile of gravy as well as other sauces and marinades.
Not like the first generation veggie burgers that tend to be bland and dry, these meat-free mini sandwiches use Qi’a (a blend of chia, buckwheat, and hemp cereal) along with diced tomatoes, garbanzo beans, garlic, and basil.