19 creative ways to cook with chia seeds
In case you haven't heard of them (and if you haven't, where have you been?), chia seeds are little nutritional powerhouses. Add them to smoothies or salads, or make them into a delicious, tapioca-like dessert; their uses are endless!
Chia seeds come from the Salvia Hispanica plant, a relative of mint. They were once an important food for the Mayans and Aztecs, who prized them as a source of sustainable energy. In fact, the word 'chia' means 'strength' in ancient Mayan. Today, they're recognised as a superfood and you'll find both black and white seeds (there's no nutritional difference) in most supermarkets.
A 28g serving (about 2 tablespoons) contains 4g of protein, 11g of fibre and 9g of fat (5g are Omega-3s), as well as manganese, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, potassium and B vitamins. Oh, and that's only 137 calories! Chia seeds are usually grown organically and are naturally gluten free. Packed with antioxidants, most of their carbs are fibre, making them ideal for anyone on a low-carb diet. They're also high in protein – around 14% protein – which can help leave you feeling satisfied and reduce your appetite.
Chia seeds are also a great source of Omega-3s, and may improve your metabolism whilst supporting bone health. All this, and they're easy to include in your diet – the seeds themselves don't have much flavour, so they can be added to anything. If you've picked up a bag of white or black chia seeds and are looking for ways to use them, we have 19 ideas to get you started!
#1. Bake scones
Chia seeds can be used in baking in a similar way to poppy seeds. Try these lemon chia seed scones which are gluten and refined sugar free. This recipe uses healthy coconut oil, with oat flour, egg and chia seeds, so it's packed with protein. There's even a sticky lemon glaze recipe, for the perfect sweet treat.
#2. Make overnight oats
We love Deliciously Ella's overnight chia oats with coconut yoghurt. If you're pushed for time in the morning, this can be made the night before and stored in the fridge for a quick breakfast. Chia seeds plump up when they absorb water, forming a gel-like consistency that's great for porridge and puddings. This uses just four ingredients – oats, almond milk, chia seeds and coconut yoghurt. The beauty is, you can add your own toppings. We love half a banana, some cacao nibs and pumpkin seeds; great as a pre-workout breakfast.
#3. Whip up a smoothie
You know how much we love smoothies, but this peach oat smoothie from Minimalist Baker is so amazing! It's vegan and a great way to boost your fruit intake. You'll need peaches, orange juice, a banana, oats, almond milk and of course, chia seeds. This is a fruity, creamy, nutritious smoothie that's perfectly refreshing after a run.
#4. Make ice lollies
We're not kidding. Get the recipe for these fab raspberry coconut chia lollies here. Sweetened with natural liquid stevia, these almond and coconut milk pops are packed with chia seeds and raspberries. They're easy to make and dairy-free. A great way to cool off after a session at the gym!
#5. Make blondies
Sweet potato brownies, chickpea brownies; our obsession with brownies has no end. Today though, we'll be making blondies, nut, dairy and gluten-free ones. This recipe uses pumpkin but you could sub sweet potato if you like. The addition of protein-packed chia seeds means these are less of a guilty pleasure, more of a nutritious treat.
#6. Perfect a pudding
Creamy, chocolatey desserts don't have to be off the menu just because you're eating healthily, and avocado is a great way to achieve a creamy texture when making pudding. This chocolate avocado chia pudding provides you with a source of good fats from the avocados, plus healthy coconut oil and plenty of fibre and protein from the chia seeds.
#7. Create some crackers
We love crackers! Spread with nut butter, dipped into salsa, hummus or home made guacamole or topped with tuna salad for a light lunch when you're working from home. These chia seed crispbread crackers are a great way to increase your intake of healthy omega-3s and they're packed with pumpkin, sunflower, flax and chia seeds, plus good fats from olive oil.
#8. Try some chai
Chai-spiced pudding is not only healthy when made with chia seeds, it's also a great source of antioxidants, and warming ginger, cardamom and cinnamon make it comforting too. This almond milk pudding is the perfect way to use your chia seeds.
#9. Jazz up some jam
Tomato jam is a great way to liven up sandwiches or burgers – tastes great in a BLT. It's easy to make with just seven ingredients. Lycopene and antioxidants from the tomatoes protect your body against free radicals, whilst apple cider vinegar and sugar provide that sweet and sour tang.
#10. Bake some bread
Not regular bread – banana bread! This vegan version uses walnuts, coconut and soaked chia seeds as an egg replacer. The addition of the chia seeds plumps up the protein and fibre content of this teatime snack nicely.
#11. Try falafel
Traditionally made with chickpeas, these vegetable chia falafel are an amazing twist on a classic recipe. They're a great way to increase your intake of vegetables, with courgettes, mushrooms, carrots and tomato included in the batter. Garlic, cumin and chilli powder provide intense flavour – serve these with the tomato jam recipe above!
#12. Grab some granola
Granola recipes are one of our favourite things – try our ultimate granola recipe for the perfect breakfast. This recipe for honey almond chia granola is delicious served over Greek yogurt with sliced banana. Protein from the chia seeds and egg whites plus healthy fats from the almonds make this a seriously satisfying option for a weekday morning, or any time!
#13. Make cookies
Chocolate chia cookies from Deliciously Ella not only look great – they taste as good as they look thanks to sticky dates, raw cacao, almonds and hazelnuts and chia seeds. A little of what you fancy does you good, and we fancy baking this recipe.
#14. Curb your burger craving
Try this recipe for chia chicken burgers for a healthier take on fast food. Use olive or coconut oil – both sources of healthy fats – to cook and enjoy the protein from the chicken, quinoa and chia seeds, which will leave you feeling satisfied. We love to serve these burgers with the tomato jam recipe.
#15. Jazz up wedges
Sweet potato wedges are one of the best things on the planet, in our opinion! Toss yours in smoked paprika, chia seeds and chia oil for a smoky, spicy, crunchy finish, then roast in the oven. Delicious.
#16. Dish up a dip
Guacamole, salsa, hummus – we're always on the lookout for new dip recipes and we love this spiced sweet potato and lentil dip with chia seeds. Spicy red chilli flakes, chia bran and seeds and sweet potato (a great source of vitamin A) are combined with red lentils for a fibre-packed dip that makes a great post-workout snack. Serve with crispy pita bread chips.
#17. Perfect pesto
Make your own pesto and avoid additives in store-bough varieties. This chia walnut and spinach version uses walnuts, a source of selenium and vitamin E, chia seed oil, parsley and iron-rich spinach. The vibrant green colour turns any dish of pasta into an impressive meal.
#18. Create a courgette side dish
Courgettes are rich in vitamin A and antioxidants; they're also a good source of heart-healthy potassium. Combine them with garlic, olive oil and toasted chia seeds and you have a delicious side dish. We like to serve this with salmon, packed with omega-3.
#19. Stir-fry with chia
You can swap chia seeds for sesame seeds when making a vegetable stir fry. The chia seeds expand, thickening this sauce nicely. Try our vegetable stir fry recipe; you can use whatever vegetables you have to hand.
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