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If you’re like us and wondering how else to use the large bag of chia seeds in your pantry, then here’s an article for you! We will cover a brief background on chia seeds, their health benefits, and some handy uses or recipes with chia seeds that you can try.
I first bought chia seeds a little over ten years ago, because of its hype as a “superfood.” My only use for them at the time was as an addition to my green smoothies. (See our article, Make Green Smoothies Healthier + Low-Sugar Guaranteed | Recipe.)
The only chia seed recipe that I’d heard of was chia seed pudding, but the chocolate chia seed pudding that I tried didn’t impress me. So, I wasn’t inspired to try more recipes with chia seeds until more recent history.
Later on, I’ll share some uses or recipes with chia seeds that I or my children enjoy. First, for those of you interested in facts, I’ll share some tidbits about chia seeds.
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds come from the Salvia hispanica plant, commonly referred to as the “chia” plant. The chia plant belongs to the mint family and is possibly native to Mexico, where ancient cultures used the seeds in whole or flour form.
For those of us old enough to remember, Chia Pets were once heavily advertised through televisions commercials in the ‘80s, and are still around today. The kits basically consisted of variously shaped terra-cotta pots that you would rub chia seeds on to sprout chia seedlings. The seedlings would, of course, resemble green hair or fur on your planter creature.
(Side note: I never had a Chia Pet, but often wanted one as a kid!)
Anyway, I digress. Back to chia seed cultivation!
Like with most plants, chia seeds come from the chia plant’s flowers. If you grow your own chia plants, you can harvest chia seeds by crushing dried chia plant flowers to separate the seeds out. (If you want to try growing chia seeds, you can read our Beginner’s Cheat-Sheet to Starting Vegetable Seeds in 6 Easy Steps.)
Most people just buy chia seeds rather than growing and harvesting their own. You can probably find chia seeds in any supermarket nowadays, or order them online like here.
Why Are Chia Seeds Popular?
This article reports that Google searches for “chia seeds” grew 800% between 2009 and 2019, highlighting the growth in popularity.
Some people also credit the rise in popularity to the European Union’s authorization of companies to sell chia seeds as a novel food in 2009. However, chia seeds generally developed a growing reputation as a health food, or even a “superfood.”
Whatever the exact cause of its popularity, chia seeds have clearly been in the limelight over the last decade.
If you want to include chia seeds as a superfood in your diet, then this article shares some uses or ideas for recipes with chia seeds.
Do Chia Seeds Have Health Benefits?
Below are the three most popular health benefits of chia seeds:
Chia seeds contain about 4.68 grams of protein per ounce, which is pretty impressive considering how one large egg contains about 6 grams of protein, but weighs more. (However, eggs are powerhouses of other health benefits as well, making them one of the healthiest foods around!)
Related Article: Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot or Stovetop: 2 Ways
Protein is critical for healthy growth, and can aid weight loss or maintenance. (See our article, Examining Smoothies to Drink for Weight Loss | Indulgent Recipe and 4 Variations, for high-protein weight loss smoothie options.)
One ounce of chia seeds has about 9.75 grams of fiber. Compare that to one cup of chopped raw broccoli, which has about 2.37 grams of fiber. Pretty impressive, huh?
Chia seeds contain mostly soluble fiber, which gives wet chia seeds their characteristic gooey texture.
Soluble fiber can help reduce cholesterol, blood sugar, and the risk of heart disease. It can also improve digestion and promote weight less by increasing your feeling of fullness.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Research shows that consuming chia seeds can increase the α-linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) levels in your body. However, consuming chia seeds does not result in higher docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels, which is another important omega-3 fatty acid.
Fish is the best source for DHA. (Read our article, 7+ Inspiring Health Benefits of Cod Liver Oil for You to Consider, for a more thorough discussion of Omega-3 fatty acids and the benefits of including DHA in your diet.)
Thus, although chia seeds contain some omega-3 fatty acids, they don’t contain the complete set that your body needs for optimum health. So, if you want to ensure your body gets all three types of omega-3 fatty acids, then you should incorporate DHA sources as well.
7 Healthy and Delectable Uses for or Recipes with Chia Seeds
Although I don’t go out of my way to consume chia seeds, I often have a big bag in my pantry, so have wondered on different ways to use the seeds up. Below are different uses or recipes with chia seeds that I’ve come across and enjoyed:
Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seed pudding has to be amongst the most popular recipes with chia seeds. As a I mentioned earlier, it was the first chia seed recipe that I tried.
This chia seed pudding recipe is very easy, basic, and quite delicious.
My sole modification is to use whole milk instead of nut milk, since I’m not vegan. Also, if you’re into raspberry flavor, my daughter loves raspberry extract in chia seed pudding. It adds a nice, less usual twist!
Chia Seed Cookies
These cookies are fairly low-sugar for a cookie recipe, and a nice treat if you enjoy oatmeal raisin. You can use dried cranberries (or even chocolate chips!) instead of raisins, though I am always a fan of the classic oatmeal raisin combination.
We don’t eat oatmeal much in our house, but my kids enjoy eating it from time to time. Since we don’t keep oatmeal in the pantry, I tried this recipe for faux oatmeal on a whim one day. It’s a keto recipe incorporating shredded coconut, chia seeds, and other ingredients that create a somewhat grainy texture.
My modifications were to use whole milk instead of water, and to add heavy whipping cream afterwards to increase the creaminess. My kids enjoyed eating the “oatmeal” with blueberries and cinnamon. However, the flavor is not as mild as regular oatmeal, so you may not feel up for eating a huge serving.
I’ve made this granola recipe quite a few times, but have modified it to use or omit ingredients based on preferences or what I’ve had in my pantry.
For instance, since my family doesn’t like walnuts, I substitute more pecans for the walnuts. I also substitute more chia seeds for the flax seeds, since we don’t keep flax seeds in our house. I also omitted the cane sugar, since the recipe seemed sweet enough with only the maple syrup.
The end result is delicious, particularly with the flavor that roasting the ingredients brings out. We enjoy eating the granola plain, with milk, or with yogurt. (See our Beginner’s Guide: Make Amazing Yogurt in the Instant Pot.) Making granola is also way more economical than buying it, and you can control your ingredients like sugar level.
Related Article: Sneaky Hidden Sugars You May Find in 6 Popular Foods and More
If you are vegan (or avoid eggs for other reasons), you probably already have go-to vegan recipes. However, you might have favorite baking recipes that aren’t vegan, which you would love to try to modify to omit eggs.
Well, an approximate egg substitute in baking recipes is as follows: mix 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water in a bowl and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. You can then use the mushy mixture like you would an egg in any baked good.
As mentioned earlier, my first use for chia seeds was in smoothies. I’d simply add a tablespoon or two to my green smoothie to increase the nutritional value. Aside from the presence of soft seeds in my smoothie, I didn’t detect any flavor difference.
So, you can try adding chia seeds to your go-to smoothies to see how you like the addition. If you don’t mind the texture of strawberry seeds, you probably won’t mind chia seeds.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of chia seeds (or any kind of seeds, for that matter) in my yogurt, because I like my yogurt additions to be soft like fruit. Thus, I’m also not a fan of adding nuts to yogurt. One exception is granola, because I like the additional flavoring that granola normally brings.
However, my daughter enjoys adding seeds to her yogurt, along with plenty of other people, so you should at least try yogurt with chia seeds to see if you like it. You might be a convert!
Feel free to share any other uses for or recipes with chia seeds in the comment section below, or if you have any feedback on the recipes with chia seeds that I listed.