The chia seed powerhouse is taking the world by storm, and for good reason. It’s jam-packed with nutrients your body needs for energy, bone health, and fiber, and provides more omega-3 fatty acids than a serving of fish.
What are Chia Seeds?
Salvia hispanica: a black little seed that was an ancient staple of the Aztecs and Mayans. This whole grain’s name translates to strength in the Mayan language; they used it as a continuous energy source.
In modern day, we consider it a superfood and a building block for many lifestyles and diets. The plant-based staple is low in calories, gluten-free, GMO-free, and low in carbohydrates while providing a hefty 5-gram dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, which increases its nutrient density and place in the modern diet. They also taste similar to poppy seeds.
Chia Seed Benefits Backed By Science
Chia seed benefits are vast. They start at the cellular level with a rich source of antioxidants, which protect your cells from degeneration and cancer-causing free radicals. (1)
They promote a healthy gut by providing food for your gut flora. Many scientists and researchers believe your digestive system must remain balanced and in good working order to maintain a strong immune system. (2)
While only containing four grams of protein per serving, the chia seed’s protein chain provide a variety of amino acids. These can be lacking in plant-based diets, so ensuring your body receives proteins from various sources can be difficult. The addition of chia seeds makes it easier to follow plant-based diets. (3, 4)
Protein helps you feel fuller for longer and reduces in-between meal snacking. Both can aid in weight loss or maintenance diets. Do keep in mind that simply adding chia seeds to a non-healthy diet is unlikely to produce any results. This can be said about any single food swap. If you’re looking to drop pounds, you must address your entire diet. (5, 6, 7)
Chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids. One important note, however, is they’re not a great source of DHA. They’re high in ALA and EPA though, and studies suggest ALA fights and protects from many types of breast and cervical cancer. (8, 9)
They might benefit your heart and blood pressure. Animal and human studies show promising results.(10)
Bone health is a fact every woman must address at some point in her life. Osteoporosis affects 3 million people in the US each year. The leading cause is a diet low in calcium. Using the chia seed benefits vegans, non-dairy vegetarians, and anyone who’s lactose intolerant by providing one of the best plant-based sources of calcium with a daily allowance of 18% per serving.
Chia seeds added to breads and meals might assist your blood sugar levels. Human and animal studies have provided mostly positive results.
12 Healthy Chia Seed Recipes You are Going to Love
You can eat chia seeds plain, tossed on a salad, or you can add them to recipes for an extra punch. In vegan baking, they make an excellent egg replacer. You can grind them to a fine powder and use in gluten-free and low carb baking recipes too.
1. Healthy Fruit Pudding
This adaptable recipe can serve as a snack, dessert, or breakfast. You can certainly use any fruit (or no fruit) to suit your tastes.
• 16 ounces of fruit
• 1 ½ cups milk
• 1 Tbsp. of vanilla extract
• ½ cup chia seeds
• Sweetener of choice to taste
1. Blend fruit, milk, vanilla, and sweetener until well combined. Taste test for sweetness too, and add more sweetener if desired.
2. In a large bowl, add chia seeds and pour mixture over them. Whisk together and let sit for 10 minutes.
3. Give it another stir before covering and placing in your refrigerator for 4 hours.
4. Serve chilled.
Pudding will keep for about three days, but the longer it sits, the more it thickens. You can add a bit of milk or water to thin it out before serving.
2. Lower-Carb Cauliflower-Chia Seed Falafel
This non-traditional take on a delicious street food produces the texture and taste of falafel without deep-frying. The recipe still uses chickpeas and rolled oats, but you’ll be replacing half with cauliflower and chia seeds to lower the carbs and up the nutrition.
• 1 c onion, chopped
• 1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped and steamed
• ¾ c rolled oats
• ¼ c chia seeds
• 2 ½ c chickpeas, cooked
• 2 tsp. baking powder
• 1 tsp. nutritional yeast
• ½ tsp. turmeric
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2. In a food processor, pulse all ingredients until well-combined.
3. Roll into golf ball sized balls and place on a lined baking sheet.
4. Bake 12 minutes.
5. Flip balls.
6. Bake an additional 10 minutes
7. Serve warm
3. Lemon Chia Seed Muffins
Adapted from Pinch of Yum
A classic gets an updated twist with the use of chia seeds instead of poppy. This variation is vegan-friendly and omits poppy seeds and the glaze found in the original recipe.
• 1/3 c lemon juice
• ¼ c lemon zest
• ½ c sugar or substitute of choice
• 1 ½ c all-purpose flour
• 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
• 2 tsp. vanilla extract
• Vegan egg replacer or enough chia slurry to replace 2 eggs*
• 3 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
• ½ c of favorite plain vegan Greek-style yogurt
• ¼ c milk of choice
• 5 Tbsp. chia seeds
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Toss lemon zest and sugar in a bowl. The friction assists in releasing oils from the zest.
3. Add flour and baking soda, tossing again.
4. In a second bowl, mix juice, vanilla, chia slurry, melted oil, milk, yogurt, and chia seeds.
5. Add your wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until combined. Don’t over stir.
6. Scoop batter into a greased muffin tin.
7. Bake 12 minutes or until tops are golden and springy.
*Homemade chia slurries vary in thickness and by recipe used.
4. Baked Oatmeal
Baked oatmeal is delicious on a cold morning. It also doubles as a delicious, healthy snack or dessert when dressed with an extra layer of sweetness.
With a few swaps and substitutions, you can make this vegetarian dish vegan-friendly.
• 1 ripe banana, mashed
• ½ c almond, cashew, or peanut butter
• ½ c cottage cheese
• 1½ tbsp. honey
• 1 ½ c milk of choice
• 2 cups rolled oats
• 1 egg white
• ½ c slivered almonds, toasted and chopped
• 1 tbsp. chia seeds
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 2 tsp. cinnamon
• 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix banana, egg, honey, cottage, cheese, and milk.
3. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients, including spices and chia seeds, and whisk.
4. Transfer the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined.
5. Pour into an 8×8 baking dish. Sprinkle nuts evenly over the top.
6. Bake 30 minutes.
7. Cut into squares and serve warm.
Vegan options: Replace egg white with a chia slurry and swap out the cottage cheese for chunky applesauce.
5. P-Nutty Energy Bites
For an on-the-go snack, these little bites will keep you fueled throughout your day.
• 1 c rolled oats
• ¼ c chia seeds
• ¼ c flax seeds
• 2/3 cup peanuts, chopped
• 1 c dates, chopped
• 1/2 c milk of choice
• ¼ cup peanut butter
• ¼ c honey
• 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 2 Tbsp. shredded coconut, unsweetened
1. Combine oats, seeds, and peanuts in a bowl.
2. Add in dates, milk, peanut butter, oil, honey, and vanilla. Stir until well-combined.
3. Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll in coconut flakes and place on a parchment-lined tray.
6. Chocolate Avocado Pudding with Chia Seeds
Raw avocado pudding gets an extra healthful boost with ground chia seeds. Better yet, this recipe contains no added sugar.
• 2 avocados, ripe
• 1 banana, ripe
• 1/3 c cocoa powder or carob powder
• ½ tsp. chia seeds, ground
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.
Pudding will be thick, so if you prefer a thinner consistency, you can thin it with your milk of choice. Use a tablespoon at a time. If you want a sweeter pudding, use a touch of honey or stevia to taste. I always found a ripe banana makes it sweet enough for my tastes.
7. Grain-free Granola
Most granola contains grains either to assist in binding or to distribute flavorings. This recipe is similar to a trail mix or muesli type cereal. It’s Paleo-friendly and naturally vegan.
• 1 c almonds, chopped
• ½ c cashews, chopped
• ¼ c pistachios, chopped
• 1/4 c sunflower seeds, shelled
• ¼ c pumpkin seeds
• 3 Tbsp. chia seeds
• 1 Tbsp. pumpkin, pureed
• 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
• 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
• 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
• 1 tsp. cinnamon
• ½ c cranberries, unsweetened and dried
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Mix nuts, seeds, and cranberries in a large bowl and set aside.
3. Combine puree, melted oil, maple syrup, extract, and cinnamon until blended.
4. Pour wet mixture over the nut mixture. Toss until well coated.
5. Transfer to a lined baking sheet. Press down into a single layer.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.
7. Granola is done when it’s no longer sticky.
8. Chia Protein Shake
No recipe collection could be complete without a quick and easy shake made to jumpstart your morning.
• ½ c milk of choice
• 1 c frozen fruit of choice
• 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder, optional
• 2 tsp. chia seeds
1. Add milk, fruit, and protein powder to your blender.
2. Mix until creamy and well combined.
3. Stir in chia seeds or sprinkle on top.
9. Vegan Mushroom Cream Sauce
Dairy-free cream sauces don’t take a lot of work or special ingredients that you can’t pick up at the grocery store.
• 3 c mushrooms, thinly sliced
• 1 shallot, diced
• 2 c cashew milk*
• 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1 tsp. parsley
• 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1. In a large pan over medium-high heat, sauté mushrooms in coconut oil until cooked.
2. Add shallot and cook until translucent.
3. Stir in garlic and toss frequently. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
4. Add cashew milk and nutritional yeast. Bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.
6. Stir in chia seeds and remove from heat.
7. Sauce thickens as it stands.
*Cashew milk is naturally thicker. If you prefer to use another plant-based milk, you might need to reduce it to ¾ cup.
10. Chia Lemonade
Ever see those fancy bottled chia drinks in the produce aisle? You can most certainly make your own at home and save lots of money. Don’t like lemonade? You can use unsweetened green tea, or add your chia seeds to nearly any beverage.
• 2 c water
• ½ c lemon juice
• 3 Tbsp. honey or sweetener of choice to taste
• 4 Tbsp. chia seeds
1. Mix all ingredients in a tall pitcher.
2. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before serving.
11. Lime Chia Dressing
The tartness of lime and a slight sweetness from honey marry in this simple dressing that works well on regular salad and the fruity variety.
• 3 Tbsp. lime juice
• 1 Tbsp. honey
• 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
1. Whisk all ingredients together.
Give it a kick: add a teaspoon of hot pepper flakes or a dash of hot pepper sauce to the recipe for a sweet and spicy experience.