How To Use Chia Seeds

Chia products, most prominently Chia seeds, are popping up everywhere in groceries. There are many different chia products on the market to choose from, but the seeds are now enjoying most of the popularity as a tiny energy booster. We’ll explore different ways to include these seeds in your diet and show some chia seed recipes. But first, lets answer a few questions about what chia really is and why it’s good for you.

Background Info

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What is Chia?

Chia refers to tiny black and white seeds extracted from a desert plant originating in Central America. The chia plant is part of the mint plant family and is an annual herb whose white & purple flowers turn to seed. Chia seeds are believed to have been a staple in the diet of the ancient Aztecs, Mayans and Incas, even nicknamed “running food” because it supplied their warriors with energy.

Is Chia Good For You?

Yes, Chia seeds are actually packed with nutrition. Chia popularity has risen recently because of the amount of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber contained in the tiny seeds. They are often considered an energy booster. Chia seeds are an unprocessed, concentrated whole-grain food that is easily absorbed by the body. In fact just 2 tablespoons of seeds (one serving) contain 4 grams protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber in about 139 calories.

Because of these great qualities, along with a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, studies are emerging that show consuming chia seeds can help lower cholesterol, triglycerides and even blood pressure. Because these seeds retain hydration, they help maintain electrolyte balances and aid in digestion. There are also some theories that chia seeds can help you lose weight because of their expansion powers that can make you feel fuller, but these have not been scientifically proven.

How to Use Chia Seeds

  • Chia seeds are very versatile and can be used in any number of different ways. They can be eaten raw on their own or added to any of your favorite recipes. Chia seeds make a healthy addition when sprinkled on top of quinoa, rice or pasta or sprinkled into a bowl of cold cereal, hot cereal or yogurt. Try adding them to your favorite granola mix or granola bar recipe. They can be added to spreads like cream cheese or jam (where they will absorb the extra liquid) to add both texture and nutrition. They are easily added to most any smoothie to make it a little more interesting of a creation.

  • Chia seeds also can be added to your favorite baked good recipes, including pancakes and waffles. Try using chia seeds in your muffin mix or use chia seeds in place of another ingredient like the poppy seeds in a lemon poppy seed muffin or an almond poppy seed muffin. They will add the same crunch as poppy seeds to the muffin texture, but also add a bit of a nutty flavor along with a nutrition boost.

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  • Chia seeds can also be soaked in fruit juice or water for an interesting variation. Turns out these tiny little seeds are very absorbent, so when liquid is added they about triple in size. To the right you see a tablespoon of seeds to which water has just been added (note all the water in the middle). As the liquid absorbs into the chia seed they develop a gelatinous texture around them, much like tapioca. The picture below shows the new soft jello-like substance that appears within about 10 minutes. Many people soak them and then just eat a bowl of them straight up without adding anything, but there really isn’t much flavor enjoyment eating them this way. Below are a few of the more flavorful recipes using chia seeds.

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  • Chia seeds are very popular now because of their nutritional value, but they aren’t the only part of the chia plant that is edible. You’ve seen a Chia plant growing from some type of clay animal, right? They used to be a very popular silly gift. Well, turns out those Chia sprouts are not just for decoration, they are also edible. Chia sprouts make a great addition to sandwiches and salads, among other foods. Use them as you would alfalfa sprouts.
  • Chia Seed Recipes

    Try one of these recipes to enhance your chia experience.

    Chia Seed Fruit Dressing
    Chia Seed Fruit Dressing
    Chia Seed Pudding
    Chia Seed Pudding
    Coconut Chia Pudding

    Coconut Chia Pudding Recipe

    1. Whip 1 container (about 1/2 Cup) of Coconut Greek Yogurt with 3/4 Cup Coconut Milk (full fat), 1/4 Cup Chia Seeds, 2 Tablespoons Honey, 2 Tablespoons Coconut (shredded) and 1 teaspoon of Vanilla. Cover & place in the refrigerator.
    2. Leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours, stirring once or twice as it sets.
    3. Spoon into serving cups and garnish with toasted coconut, chopped nuts and/or whipped cream. Or, add some pineapple chunks for a pina colada chia!

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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