Category Archives: Chia Seeds How To

How to buy, prepare, use, eat and cook chia seeds

How to Eat Chia Seeds: the Ultimate Guide +101 Ways

You know chia seeds are a superfood, and they’re good for you. But now you need to know: how do you eat chia seeds? Answer: the possibilities are endless.

How to eat chia seeds? Let's count the ways.
How to eat chia seeds? Let’s count the ways.

So, first, let’s take a look at the basic ways to eat chia seeds, then see how you can mix it up a little and put preparing chia seeds into practice in your kitchen and your life.

What you don’t need to do to chia seeds

But first, a quick tip. A lot of people wonder if they need to grind chia seeds before using them. The short answer: no. Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds do not need to be ground  in order for you to get the nutritional benefits, according to Lindsey Duncan, a naturopathic doctor writing on DrOz.com. However, you can grind them if you choose.

Basic ways to eat chia seeds

Here are the 6 general ways to eat chia seeds:

  • Soak the seeds overnight in water or juice and drink them. If you consume chia seeds this way, they get gelatinous and add an interesting texture to the drink. If you have issues with weird textures in food, you might want to eat your chia seeds some other way.
  • Make chia gel, which is quite a bit thicker than chia water, and eat it straight or add it to drinks, smoothies or cold soups. Chia gel keeps in the refrigerator for a week or longer.
  • Throw raw seeds whole or ground into a smoothie, or other drink, or even a soup. Blend, then eat or drink. This way, you incorporate the seeds so you don’t even taste them. They are a natural thickener, though, so they’ll make your food a little thicker.
  • Sprinkle them whole onto your food. If you eat chia seeds this way, use a smaller amount (say half a teaspoon vs. the one or two tablespoons you might blend into a smoothie or soak in a glass of water.) And, make sure to drink  plenty of water with your meal. The reason? Chia seeds absorb water and expand. If they don’t have water to take in, they can leach it from your body, resulting in a wicked stomach ache.
  • Bake them or cook them into bread or other deliciously carb-y foods.
  • Use them as a thickener. You can throw chia seeds into soups, gravy, other sauces, pudding or homemade jams or jellies as a healthy thickener. You can then eat your creation or use it in another recipe.

So, those are the basic ways to eat chia seeds. However, there are almost limitless variations.  Here are 30 twists on the basics to give you more ideas for eating chia seeds. You can make:

Chia drinks

1.Chia water. This is probably the easiest, simplest way to use chia seeds. It’s good for cooling off and staying hydrated.

2. A chia fresca. This is a traditional energy drink that’s common in Mexico and is great for hot weather. YumUniverse.com has a recipe.

3. A chia smoothie. The variations are endless. Seek out a chia smoothie recipe or just throw a tablespoon or two of seeds into your favorite smoothie.

4. Chia juice. It’s easy to make chia juice. All you need is a juice (store bought or homemade), chia seeds and a bottle or jar or drink shaker.

5. Chia tea. Mix flavored chia gel with iced black, green or white tea.

6. Chia hot chocolate. SavoringEveryBite.com has a recipe.

7.  A chia seed cocktail. Chilled Magazine offers a recipe for a strawberry basil chia mojito.

8. A frosty, like this “seeded” watermelon frosty.

9. A milkshake. Throw a teaspoon of chia seeds into your favorite milkshake recipe, or try this chocolate pistachio shake.

Chia gel

10. You can make basic chia gel by mixing chia seeds and water. (Ratio: about 1 tablespoon per cup of liquid. Adjust if you want the gel to be thicker or thinner.)

11. Or, make a flavored chia gel by using juice instead of water.

12. Or make chia broth gel. Just use veggie broth instead of water to make a chia gel, and it’s ready to add to any savory dish, like gravy or soup.

 Chia breakfast

13. Make a chia breakfast bowl. This is pretty easy: put any raw fruit you like, or a combo, into a bowl. (Ideas: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, bananas, apples.) Sprinkle a half teaspoon to one teaspoon of chia seeds on top. Add the milk of your choice (almond milk is especially good.)Mix. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Top with chopped nuts or seeds (walnuts, pumpkin seeds) and any other topping you like (such as dried, unsweetened coconut.) Eat.

14. Chia oatmeal. Sprinkle chia seeds into your oatmeal or other hot cereal in the last few minutes of cooking. Add fruit and a splash of almond (or other) milk.

15. Chia seeds on cold cereal. Sprinkle a half teaspoon to a teaspoon of chia seeds on your cold cereal. Top with soy milk or other milk of your choice.

16. Chia yogurt. Stir a half teaspoon to a teaspoon of chia seeds into your favorite yogurt. Bonus: top with fresh fruit.

17. Summer oatmeal. Chia seeds act as a thickener in cold oatmeal recipes. TheYummyLife.com has recipes for six different flavors.

18. Top a banana with peanut butter or tahini. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp. chia seeds, 1/4 tsp. hemp seeds 1 T. sunflower seeds on top.

19. Mix 1/4 tsp chia seeds with 1 T. nut butter of your choice and spread on toast. Top with banana slices and a drizzle of honey.

20. Throw half a teaspoon of chia seeds into a scrambled egg, and let sit 10 minutes before cooking.

21. Make a chia omelette. Do like you would for chia scrambled eggs, but make an omelette instead. Suggestion: roasted asparagus, garlic and gruyere.

22. Chia breakfast casserole. Add chia to any breakfast casserole. Or, try this apple chia breakfast casserole.

23. Chia sweet breakfast burritos. Take a whole wheat tortilla and load it with the fresh fruit of your choice (good ones: strawberries and blueberries or pineapple) and top with coconut yogurt and sprinkle on 1/4 tsp. chia seeds and a drizzle of maple syrup. Roll and eat.

24. Savory chia breakfast burritos. Mix 1/2 tsp. chia seeds with 1/2 cup refried beans and let it sit for half an hour. Spread onto two whole wheat tortillas. Add toppings of your choice (scrambled tofu or eggs, veggies, cheese, salsa.)

25. Mash 1/4 tsp. chia seeds with half an avocado and a squeeze of lemon juice. Put on a bagel or sprouted whole grain toast. Sprinkle with sea salt (or ghost pepper salt if you like it spicy.)

26. Mix half tsp. chia seeds with 3 T. cream cheese. Let it sit for half an hour or overnight. Spread on a garlic or everything bagel.

27. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp chia seeds on a soft cooked egg on rye toast.

28. Spread chia seed jelly on toast.

29. Bake a sweet potato. Mash 1/2 tsp. chia seeds into a small banana. Cut the sweet potato in half and mash the chia banana mixture in. Drizzle with maple syrup. Add a dash of cinnamon.

30. Add half a teaspoon chia seeds to potato pancake batter. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Fry the potato pancakes and serve with apple sauce.

31. Make chia seed pancakes.

Chia pudding

32. Chia breakfast pudding. Whole Foods has a recipe with non-dairy milk, figs or dates and coconut.

33. Chia pudding for dessert. Make a chocolate chia pudding topped with raspberries for a decadent-tasting finish to a healthy meal.

34. Chia pudding parfait. Layer chia pudding in glasses with fruit, whipped cream and granola.

35. Throw ground up chia seeds into a sticky rice pudding to thicken. Serve with mango or other fruit.

36. Use coconut chia pudding in a graham cracker crust for a no-bake pie. Top with fresh berries.

Chia dip or spread

37. Add 1/2 tsp chia seeds to 1 cup of refried beans. Add a tsp. of vinegar and 1 tsp. hot sauce to make a spread for rice cakes or toast, or a dip for chips.

38. Add 1/2 tsp. chia seeds to any store-bought or homemade dip to make it more nutritious.

39. Add 1/2 tsp. chia seeds to your favorite hummus recipe.

40. Make a yogurt dip for fruit by adding 1 tsp. chia seeds plus 2 tsp. maple syrup to one container of vanilla or strawberry yogurt (soy or dairy).

41. Add 1 tsp. of chia seeds to  your favorite spinach dip recipe.

42. Sprinkle 1 tsp. chia seeds into caramel dip for apples.

43. Add 1 tsp. of chia seeds to a tub of spreadable cream cheese. Add 2 T. chopped Italian parsley, 1 tsp. lemon juice and 3 T. minced green olives. Spread on crackers and top with cucumber slices.

44. Add 1 tsp. chia seeds to a jar of store bought jam or jelly. Mix well and return to the jar.

45. Add 1 tsp. chia seeds to a tub of homemade or store bought apple butter.

Chia soup

46. Throw 1 to 4 T. ground or whole chia seeds into a pot of your favorite hot soup to turn it into a stew. Add 15 minutes before the end of cooking.

47. Make a cold chia soup for summertime. You can whisk chia seeds into any cold soup to thicken and add an interesting texture. Or make chia gel using broth (see above) and use that as the base for a cold soup, adding coconut milk, diced cucumber, diced tomato, fresh corn and cilantro.

48. Add 1 tsp. chia seeds to a can of store bought soup to make it a little bit healthier.

49. Add 2 tsp. whole or ground chia seed to any creamy soup recipe. If you have a Vitamix, you can make warm soup right in your blender.

50. Use homemade chia juice as the base for a cold fruit soup. Just pour 1/2 cup chia juice in a bowl, add fresh fruit and drizzle with coconut milk. (Example: use blueberry chia juice and fresh blueberries. Optional: add 1 tsp. chopped fresh basil or mint.)

Chia salad

51. Make a chia fruit salad by cutting up seasonal fruits, adding a teaspoon of chia seeds, a few tablespoons of soy or other yogurt and topping with dried, shredded coconut and a drizzle of honey.

52. Chia potato salad. Add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of chia seeds to your favorite potato salad recipe. Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

53. Salad topping. Throw a half teaspoon of chia seeds on top of any salad for a little crunch and a nutritional boost.

54. Chia slaw. Add a mix of chia seeds, hemp seeds and sunflower seeds to red or green cabbage slaw, or carrot slaw.

55. Chia cucumber salad. Cut up a cucumber. Mix 1 tsp. of chia seeds with 3 T yogurt or sour cream and 2 tsp. lemon or lime juice. Add sea salt and 1 T. chopped cilantro or parsley.

56. Pasta salad. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp. of chia on top of any pasta salad for a healthy crunch.

Chia sandwiches

57. Add 1tsp. chia seeds to any egg salad recipe.

58. Add 1 tsp. chia seeds to your favorite tuna salad recipe.

59. Add 1/2 tsp. of ground chia seeds to 1/4 cup of Italian dressing. Whisk, and let sit until it thickens. Drizzle on an Italian sub. The chia seeds help  thicken the dressing to prevent it from drizzling out.

60. Use 1/2 tsp. of chia seeds in any veggie burger recipe.

Chia snacks

61. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp. chia on top of celery stuffed with nut butter or cream cheese.

62. Add 1/2 tsp. chia seeds to your favorite trail mix recipe.

63. Add 1/tsp chia seeds to your popcorn.

64. Make chia crackers. Nyoutritious.com has a recipe.

65. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp. on top of homemade kale chips.

Chia dinners

66. You can use chia to make a crust for tofu or fish. Alive.com has a recipe for chia-crusted tofu with lime salt.

67. You can add 2 tsp. of ground chia seeds to any meatball recipe, including veggie meatballs. Serve in spaghetti or on a sub.

68. Do the same in any meatloaf — meat, bean or veggie.

69. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp chia seeds on top of pasta primavera.

70. Add 2 tsp. whole or ground chia seeds to any pasta sauce during cooking.

71. Add 1 tsp. round chia seeds to any breading for fish, chicken or tofu.

72. Put 1/2 tsp chia seeds on top of a baked potato with your favorite topping. (Example: broccoli with cashew cheeze sauce or hummus with salsa.)

73. Add 1 tsp. chia seeds to any curry recipe (potato curry, red lentil curry, vegetable curry.)

74. Toss 1 tsp. chia seeds into a stirfry five minutes before it’s done.

75. Stir 1/2 to 1 tsp. ground chia into the stuffing for stuffed mushroom caps or stuffed zucchini.

76. Add 1 to 3 T chia seeds to a big pot of chili to make it extra thick and hearty.

77. Use chia seeds to make a gluten-free pizza crust. Check out this pizza recipe from GlutenFreeGirl.com.

78. Add chia seeds to a dinner frittata.

79. Make chia sushi rolls.

80. Add chia seeds to packaged or homemade falafel (add a little extra liquid too) and serve in a sandwich or on a salad.

82. Add 1/2 tsp. chia seeds to couscous at the same time you add the couscous to the boiling water.

83. Toss 1 tsp. chia seeds with 1.5 cups red quinoa cooked in broth. Add 1/4 cup chopped green olives and 1/4 cup cheddar cheese (dairy or vegan.)

84. Make a chia dinner bowl. Start with a base of a warm grain (brown rice or any other whole grain) mixed with 1/2 tsp. chia seeds. Add veggies of your choice and top with sauce of your choice (for example, yogurt cucumber sauce or salsa.)

85. Throw 1 tsp. chia seeds into the rice cooker while your rice cooks.

Chia gravy

86. Use chia seeds in place of cornstarch or other thickeners to add body to your favorite gravy. To do this, whisk in a tablespoon of ground (or whole) chia seeds. If you desire a thicker gravy, add more, little by little.

87. Make chia mushroom gravy.

Chia jam or jelly

88. Make homemade chia jelly for PB&J sandwiches.

89. Make chia freezer jam. AllRecipes.com has a recipe that uses four types of berries. Yum.

 Chia desserts

90. Use ground chia seeds mixed with water as an egg replacer in baking.

91. Make chia seed banana bread. Essential Wellness has a recipe.

92. Chia energy bars. Add 1 T. chia seeds to any recipe.

93. Add 1 tsp. chia seeds to any homemade ice cream recipe.

94. Make chia seed brownies.

95. Use chia seed jelly or jam in any fruit oat bar recipe.

96. Use chia seeds as a thickener in pie filling. Us in place of another thickener or throw in 1 tsp. of chia seeds.

97. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp. chia seeds on top of any fresh fruit topped with whipped cream.

98. Make chocolate chia seed bark. try this recipe from YouBeauty.com

99. Stir 1 tsp. chia seeds into 1 cup of applesauce and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. Serve topped with minced apples, chopped walnuts, a drizzle of maple syrup and cinnamon.

100. Add 2 tsp. chia seeds to coconut frosting for cupcakes or cake.

101. Make dessert balls. Here’s a recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie.

So,there are 101 ways to eat chia seeds. For more ideas, check out our recipes. Happy chia eating!

 

The #1 Easiest Way to “Eat” Chia Seeds: in Water

Chia seed water is a delicious, easy-to-make and extremely hydrating drink. There are plenty of fun variations on chia water too, such as making flavored chia water or coconut chia water.

Chia seed water Photo: Janine
Chia seed water
Photo: Janine

You should put your chia seeds in the water a day ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge overnight for best results.

How to make chia water

It couldn’t be any easier to make this super healthy beverage. Here’s a a simple chia water recipe:

  • 3 cups filtered water*
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • A Ball jar with a lid or a beverage shaker

*Natural-Healthy-Eating.com recommends using water that has been filtered by reverse osmosis for maximum water absorption by the chia seeds. But I use regular filtered water from my fridge, and it works pretty well.

To make the water:

Put the filtered water in your jar or beverage shaker. Add the chia seeds. Close the jar and shake vigorously for about a minute. Let the jar sit, coming back every few minutes to shake until the water begins to thicken.  (It usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes.)

Put the jar of chia seed water in the fridge and let it sit for several hours or, better yet, overnight. By letting the water sit for a while, you give the chia seeds a chance to soak up the water and expand as much as they’re going to. Chia seeds are hydrophilic, meaning they’re like tiny sponges. They absorb 10 times their weight in water, and then they become gelatinous.

Once the chia water is ready, give it another good shake. Pour it into a glass, or a sports bottle — or drink straight from the jar.

Chia water with a twist: yummy variations 

You can jazz up plain old chia water with flavors, additions and garnishes.

My favorite twist is to use all-natural, unsweetened flavored water in place of regular water. I love Ayala’s Herbal Water. My favorite flavors are lavender mint, ginger lemon peel and lemongrass mint vanilla. Hint also makes a nice healthy flavored water.

Or, to save money, you can easily make DIY infused water by filling a pitcher with water and adding a fruit, vegetable or herb for a couple of hours, then removing the fruit or veggie after the water has absorbed the taste. Here are a few ideas for how to flavor your water:

  • Make cucumber mint water: add half a cucumber peeled and sliced plus one sprig of mint.
  • Make orange clove water: add a few orange slices and two or three whole cloves.
  • Make grapefruit lavender water: add half a grapefruit, sliced, plus one sprig of fresh culinary lavender. (I recommend doing this only if you grow your own lavender, so you can make sure it’s not treated with any pesticides.)
  • Make lemon water: add one lemon, sliced.

Another variation is to use coconut water. You can buy plain or flavored coconut water. (The one I like best: guava.) Coconut water is a great source of electrolytes and potassium, so combining it with chia seeds is doubly nourishing for you on a super hot day or before or after a workout.

Flavored chia water recipe

To make flavored chia water, just use the above recipe for basic chia water, substituting the flavored water for the plain filtered water. If you really want to get gourmet, throw in a few fresh blueberries or raspberries, or squeeze in some citrus juice (lemon, lime or orange) or add a garnish that works well with the flavor — for example, a stalk of lemongrass or a few curls of lemon zest.

The benefits of chia water

Chia seed water has several benefits. Here are two:

1. It’s a quick, easy way to get chia seeds in your diet. In water, they go down easily.

2. It can help you stay hydrated. According to the fitness site BreakingMuscle.com, downing chia seeds in water is a good way to keep your body hydrated for a longer period of time, and to get an energy boost. For that reason, chia water is especially good to sip before a run, or to tote with you to the gym or yoga class.

No matter how you slice it, chia seeds and water are a winning combination. Cheers!

 

Chia Gel: How to Make It, Store It and Use It

Chia Gel Photo: Larry Jacobsen
Chia Gel
Photo: Larry Jacobsen

You’ve probably heard of chia gel, but what exactly is it? Chia gel is simply a mix of chia seeds and water (or other liquid). The chia seeds absorb the liquid and become gelatinous, making the liquid very thick, almost like a natural Jell-O.

Store your chia seed gel in a jar in the refrigerator. It will keep for at least a week.

Basic Chia Seed Gel Recipe

It’s very easy to make chia gel, and it takes only a few minutes. You need:

  • Chia seeds
  • Water or other liquid
  • A bowl and a whisk OR
  • A Ball jar with a lid or a beverage shaker

To make the gel:

Mix 3 tablespoons* of chia seeds with three cups* of water in a bowl. Whisk the mixture, let it sit for a few minutes, then whisk again. Keep whisking every few minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.

Or, if you prefer, put the seeds and the water in  a Ball jar or other beverage shaker and shake vigorously, then come back and shake again every few minutes to keep the seeds from clumping together.

Once you’ve made your gel, it’s a good idea to put it in the fridge and let it sit a few hours, or preferably overnight, so the chia seeds can absorb the full amount of water. (They soak up 10 times their weight in water.) Before using the gel, give it another good shake.

*You can change the amounts of chia seed and water to make a thicker or thinner gel, if you like.

Chia gel variations

You don’t need to stick with the basic gel. You can mix it up and make flavored gel just by using a liquid other than water. Easy peasy. For example, you can use store bought or homemade fruit or vegetable juice. Or you can use coconut water. Or, you can use broth to make a savory gel that you can add to soups.

Flavored chia gel

Here are some ideas for liquids you can use to add pizzazz to your gel:

  • Apple juice
  • Blueberry juice
  • Coconut pineapple juice
  • Mango juice
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Concord or white grape juice
  • Homemade cantaloupe juice
  • Homemade watermelon juice
  • Guava flavored coconut water
  • Homemade carrot juice
  • Vegetable broth

Chia Gel Uses

Once you have your gel in the fridge, it’s ready to use any time you need it. Here are 5 ideas for how to use it:

1. Stir it into yogurt and top with chopped walnuts and fresh fruit for a breakfast or snack packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids (try blueberry flavored chia gel and fresh blueberries.)

2. Mix it into a beverage for a boost of energy and hydration. You can mix chia gel into water, coconut water, almond milk or juice. It makes a great pre-workout drink. (Try mango flavored chia gel mixed into guava coconut water.)

3. Mix it into oatmeal or another hot cereal during the last minute of cooking and top with fresh fruit and pumpkin seeds. (Try apple gel with apple chunks, cinnamon and raisins.)

4. Use it to thicken gravy or other sauce. Just stir a quarter to a half cup of chia gel into your sauce.

5.  Add to stews to thicken the broth a little bit. Try chia seed gel made with broth for added flavor.

Chia Gel Benefits

Chia gel has a variety of benefits. Here are a few:

Convenience. Having the gel onhand makes it super easy to add more chia seeds to your diet. The gel is always ready to be stirred into your food or drink.

Digestibility. By using chia that has been soaked already and has formed a gel, you make eating chia seeds easier on your tummy because the seeds won’t be absorbing water from your body and possibly causing stomach pain.

Hydration. Chia seeds are hydrophilic, meaning they absorb lots of water. When you eat (or drink) chia gel, the seeds have already absorbed the water or other liquid. According to nutritionist and author Sara Vance, chia gel can help prevent dehydration. The gel makes hydration last longer and helps the body retain electrolytes, according to Vance. So, have some as a pre-workout boost.

Chia seed gel is so easy to make and so beneficial that it’s good to always have a jar in your fridge.

Chia Tea Two Ways: Iced or Hot

Iced Chia Tea with LemonI love bubble tea — it’s so much fun to suck the bubbles up through a fat straw, and it comes in so many yummy flavors (jasmine and watermelon are my favorites). But it’s an occasional treat for me because of all the sugar, artificial color and flavors — not to mention the calories.

One reason I enjoy bubble tea is the texture of the tapioca pearls (aka bubbles or boba). Chia seeds are kind of similar, except they’re smaller, they’re a whole food and they’re 100 percent good for you. So, using chia seeds in tea seems pretty genius to me. Bonus: chia tea is easy to make, and you can drink it every day.

So, here are two ways to drink chia seeds in your tea:

Iced Tea With Chia Seeds

It’s super easy to make iced chia tea. Here are the steps:

  • Brew up a pitcher of your favorite iced tea, sweetened or unsweetened (whichever you prefer). You can use iced black tea, green tea, white tea or herbal tea (tisane).
  • Pour 16 ounces of the cold (or room temperature) tea into a Ball jar or beverage shaker. Add one cup of flavored chia gel. Shake well for 30 seconds.
  • Pour it into a glass and add a garnish that complements the flavors in the tea. Garnish ideas: a sprig of mint, a lemon or orange slice, a cinnamon stick, fresh raspberries, fresh blueberries.

Here are some possible combinations:

  • Iced spearmint lemongrass green tea , garnished with mint leaves and a lemon slice
  • Orange herbal tisane, sweetened with agave nectar and garnished with a cinnamon stick and an orange slice
  • Jasmine tea with a drop of vanilla and fresh blueberries

Enjoy!

Hot Tea With Chia Seeds

It’s even easier to make hot chia seed tea. Here’s how you do it:

  • Brew up a cup of your favorite hot tea. You can use black tea, green tea, white tea or herbal. Sweeten it (or don’t) to taste.
  • Pour eight ounces of tea into a four-cup glass measuring cup with a spout. Add a quarter cup of chia gel, and whisk with a metal or silicone whisk so the seeds don’t clump together.
  • If you like, add milk (or almond milk or soy creamer) and a garnish (optional). Garnish ideas: a cinnamon stick, an orange slice, a lemon slice, orange or lemon zest or a sprig of rosemary.
  • Pour it into your favorite mug. (I always use a ceramic mug my mom made. I swear that using a favorite mug makes tea taste better. Really.)

Combination ideas:

  • Orange flavored black tea garnished with a cinnamon stick and orange zest
  • Chamomile tea garnished with a vanilla bean
  • Soothing or night time herbal blend garnished with a lavender sprig

Enjoy! (I like to sit back with a good book and take a break while sipping my hot tea.)