Chia is often touted as a superfood and for good reason. “Chia contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can be hard to get in your diet if you don’t consume a lot of fatty fish,” says Sara Haas, RD. “The seeds are also packed with heart-, digestion- and weight-friendly fiber.” Just 1 ounce — about two tablespoons — offers nearly 10 grams of fiber. Considering the suggested amount per day is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women, making chia seeds a staple in your diet can easily help you reach that goal.
If you’ve already hopped on the chia train, you’re no doubt familiar with chia pudding. “Chia seeds absorb water really well, which is why they’re great for making puddings and commonly used in oatmeal and overnight oats,” says Haas.
However, that’s not the only way you can take advantage of chia seeds. A great entry to chia is to add them to a smoothie. If you’re not sure if you like the gel-seed texture, then experiment by first adding a spoonful into a smoothie and pureeing, suggests Haas. You can then take it a step further and stir chia into an already-blended smoothie, which gives you a more pronounced chia texture.
Next, try using it in these seven creative ways:
If you’re avoiding eggs for any reason (you’re allergic or vegan), chia gel can be used as an egg replacement, which can be incorporated into any recipe calling for eggs. To make it, combine a ratio of 1:6 tablespoons chia seeds to water.
Making homemade salad dressings and sauces is worth it, but they’re disappointing when too runny. “If you need things a bit ‘tighter,’ in terms of consistency, try chia in salad dressings and other sauces,” says Haas.
To make jam without canning, you can use chia seeds, says Haas. “It thickens the jam without extra added sugar.” To do so, simply heat your favorite fruit in a pan over medium-high heat until it begins to break down and bubble. Then stir in chia seeds and a squeeze of lemon juice and remove from heat and allow to cool.
Try adding chia to a coating mixture (i.e., with panko, breadcrumbs or almond flour) to accompany your favorite lean protein like fish, chicken or tofu.
In the absence of liquid, chia can be nice and crunchy. Try sprinkling it on a chopped salad, grain bowl or over Greek yogurt. “Chia is virtually flavorless, so it works for both sweet and savory dishes,” says Haas. For dessert, try making this banana berry “nice” cream and tossing chia seeds with fresh berries for a healthy, nutrient-packed topping.
Whether it’s a healthy breakfast muffin or banana bread, stir chia into baked goods “for an added nutritional boost,” says Haas. They’re also a great addition to help thicken crumble mixtures for fruit crisps.
Toss veggies with oil, spices, salt and pepper and chia, then roast them as you would normally. Try it with this roasted cauliflower recipe or these one-pan dinners.