Chia seeds are a tiny superfood loaded with big health benefits! They’re the richest plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and lower the risk for heart disease. Chia seeds are also extremely rich in fiber, protein, calcium and antioxidants. Here are ten uses for chia seeds that you can incorporate into your diet everyday!
1) Chia Pudding
Perhaps our favorite way to enjoy these super seeds is in a creamy chia seed pudding. All you need is ½ cup chia seeds, 2 cups of milk, a sweetener (optional), and toppings like nuts or fruit. Stir the chia seeds, milk, and sweetener in a bowl or jar until they are well combined. Let the pudding set in the fridge for 4-6 hours, or overnight. The texture will be similar to that of tapioca pudding, but packed with healthy fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Check out this basic chia seed pudding recipe to get started. Enjoy it for breakfast or as a snack!
2) Granola Bars
Homemade granola bars are a quick and healthy treat that you can easily carry to work or school. For a burst of chia seeds, try this granola bars recipe, which will give you a whole week’s worth of snacks. Granola bars are already rich in fiber thanks to rolled oats, but this recipe packs a double fiber punch from the addition of trusty chia seeds!
In Mexico and Central America, chia seeds are added to fruit drinks known as chia fresca. These energizing chia juices take on a gelatinous texture as the chia seeds absorb the liquid and become gel-like. Chia seeds can actually absorb up to 10 times their weight in water. As chia seeds are digested, they slowly release the liquid, making them great for hydration. Make this chia seed fruit drink for a refreshing beverage. You can also mix chia seeds in coconut water for a nourishing drink to replenish fluids post-workout.
4) Chia Jam
When you make your own fruit jams, you usually need to use pectin to help them thicken. That’s not the case when you make a chia seed jam like this one. The chia seeds act as a thickener because they absorb liquid from the fruits and offer a great jam-like texture. We love making a batch of chia jam for the week because it’s a lot healthier than store-bought jams. You can serve it on toast, muffins, pancakes, and any other baked treats. This is one of the easiest ways to increase your omega-3 intake!
Drinking smoothies is a fantastic way to ensure you’re getting enough fruits and vegetables in your diet. They’re also incredibly easy because all you need to do is toss everything in your blender (that includes the chia seeds), and voila! You’ll have a nourishing beverage in no time. Since chia seeds have no flavor, they work well in almost every smoothie recipe imaginable.
If oatmeal is your go-to morning breakfast, you can mix a tablespoon of chia seeds in it for even more fiber and protein. The chia seeds will improve the texture and make each bite perfectly satisfying. This strawberry and banana overnight oats recipe can be whipped up the night before and kept in the fridge overnight to set. The next day, this breakfast practically serves itself, which is especially nice on busy mornings when you may not have enough time to prepare a healthy meal.
You may not think of adding chia seeds to savory foods like a stir-fry, but you’d be surprised to find out how versatile they can be. The chia seeds will soften with the other ingredients so that you’ll barely notice them in your dish. They can help boost the protein and omega-3 content of vegetarian stir-fries, and provide plenty of extra fiber alongside the vegetables. Try this simple chia vegetable stir-fry to start.
8) Healthy Treats
Did you know you can even add chia seeds to baked goods? Toss a couple tablespoons of chia seeds into the batter for cookies, scones, muffins, etc. before baking them in the oven. They provide an interesting crunchy texture, not to mention they’ll amp up the nutrient content of your baked treats. For a unique twist on lemon poppyseed muffins, substitute the poppy seeds for chia seeds. These healthy chocolate truffles are packed with chia seeds and other nutrient-dense ingredients for an indulgence that’s actually good for you!
As a salad topping, chia seeds can be used just as you would nuts. Toss them over your salad for a nice crunch. Another option is to mix them directly with your salad dressing so that they soak up the dressing and become gel-like. You can either do this with homemade or store-bought salad dressings. Just let the chia seeds soak for 5-10 minutes and then enjoy your healthy salad! Pair the chia seeds with walnuts for a double dose of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.
10) Thicken Sauces
If your sauces, soups or gravies are looking too watery, instead of relying on starchy thickeners, you can use chia seeds. Soak one tablespoon of chia seeds in 8 ounces of water overnight, and add the gel when you make your sauce the next day to help achieve the consistency you want.
What are your favorite ways to use chia seeds?