Chia seeds are having a bit of a moment right now. If you’re not familiar with them they’re tiny little seeds that come in both black and white and when dry look a little like fat poppy seeds. When soaked however, they look remarkably like fertilised frog eggs. For realsies. But why would you soak them anyway? Well, the ‘gel’ that forms when the seeds are soaked in a liquid (like water) can be used as a replacement for oil and eggs in baking or thrown in smoothies in place of milk.
And here’s why you’d bother with all that. Chia seeds are notoriously high in omega 3 oils (not fish oils though – you only get them from fish, surprise). They’re also up there on the calcium, dietary fibre and tryptophan meters. No, they’re not a silver bullet for health, but along with other nuts and seeds they’re worth adding to your diet.
Here are five ways our favourite food bloggers have been using them…
1. As a pudding.
These puddings work for breakfast, dessert and even snacks. Best of all they’re insanely simple to make.
A Beautiful Mess has recipes for both vanilla (breakfast, snacks) and chocolate (dessert) chia seed puddings, with nutritious pomegranate seeds to top it off.
The Roasted Root has a delicious chia seed pudding recipe that is – wait for it – gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and even paleo friendly but somehow not flavour free.
2. In baking.
As mentioned before, when soaked, chia seeds form a little gel bubble around themselves that has the consistency of jelly. It’s a bit slimy, so if you’re not into that sort of texture it can be hard to swallow (er, literally and metaphorically). The good news is that slimy texture makes it a great substitute for oil and eggs in baking that is healthful and vegan.
Wandering Spice concocted not just this scrumptious chia gel cake recipe but has also done the measurement homework for you (1 tbsp of chia + 1/3 cup water = 1 egg).
iFOODreal makes their chia gel for these Pina Colada muffins with coconut milk instead of water for a flavoured gel.
3. In no-baking.
No baking, in case you aren’t on the bandwagon, is a raw food style of ‘cooking’ that involves concoctions that don’t require heat to stay together. Some are dehydrated, some are frozen and others are refrigerated. Chia is great in these types of recipes because even without soaking, the seeds get down to business when prepared with other ingredients, absorbing moisture and keeping it all stuck together.
Rather than a straight-up healthy recipe, How Sweet It Is takes these no-bake double chocolate peanut butter snack bites and ups the nutritional quota with oats, nuts, and of course – chia seeds.
Tasty use of chia seeds? Check. Interesting blog name? Double check. No Pasta for Penguins takes a minty-fresh twist on the classic no-bake formula (something sticky + superfood powder + something oily + nuts) to create these high protein cocoa bars.
4. As they come.
Left pretty much to their own devices, chia seeds have a great crunchy-yet-silken quality that makes them idea for adding a little texture to any recipe.
Immer Wachsen grinds chia seeds up with psyllium husk and buckwheat to make gorgeous savoury biscuits that are topped with sun-dried tomatoes and avocado.
Whilst you can use chia gel in a smoothie in place of milk, it’s also fine to just throw in a teaspoon of them straight up, as shown by Country Cleaver in her blueberry protein smoothie recipe.
5. As a thickener / texturiser in sauces, dips and dressings.
Personally, I’ve been known to throw a tablespoon of chia seeds into bolognaise, ratatouille, soups and other such things that sometimes need a bit of thickening rather than adding cornflour or other powders. Turns out that’s just the tip of the potential iceberg as these bloggers show…
Going Home To Roost has developed this simple and virtually instant chia seed jam recipe using the seeds as a thickener and flavoured with a variety of different berries, like blackberries and strawberries. Yum!
On a rather different note, Gimme Some Oven uses chia seeds in her Honey Chia Seed Vinaigrette to top her brain power salad not just for the health benefits, but also for texture.
Of course, you could just sprinkle them on your muesli in the morning but with all these mouthwatering and creative options, why stop there?