Have you tried chia seeds yet? To tell the truth, I am not a huge fan of the newest “super foods” that keep emerging each year. They are typically very expensive and their nutritional value is exaggerated more often than not. But chia seeds turned out to be quite versatile and my kids liked them a lot that they became a frequent guest in our kitchen.
Chia seeds were a staple in the diet of Ancient Mayans and Aztecs alongside with corn, beans and amaranth and (lucky them, I am sure they did not have to pay a premium price for these little guys). The word chia is derived from the Mayan language and means strength and Aztec warriors relied on chia seeds to boost energy and increase stamina.
Chia seeds are packed with fiber. One tablespoon contains about 5 grams of fiber – roughly 1/5 of your recommended daily amount! They are also the richest source of plant omega-3s. Ounce by ounce, chia seeds contain more omega-3s than salmon. You would not of course, serve yourself 3 ounces or 6 tablespoons of chia seeds instead of a standard portion of 3 ounces of salmon, but they still make a very convenient plant source of these beneficial fatty acids. All in all, they are very nutritious and so rich in antioxidants that the seeds don’t deteriorate and can be stored for long periods of time without becoming rancid.
Some ways to use chia seeds in your kitchen
The mild and nutty flavor of chia seeds is a nice complement to both sweet and savory dishes. In our kitchen we use chia seeds in puddings and smoothies, sprinkle them on top of oatmeal, yogurt, cottage cheese, granola, and cereal, add them to baked goods instead of flaxseed meal or poppy seeds and mix them into pancake, waffle and muffin mixes.
Unlike flax seeds, you don’t need to grind chia seeds before eating because they are completely digestible in the whole form, which is very handy given our busy lives.
Here are a few ideas on how to use them in your favorite recipes:
– Soak 1 level tablespoon of chia seeds in a quarter cup of water to make an egg substitute ( a great tip for those who have to avoid eggs because of food allergies).
-Make chia pudding by adding whole seeds to cow’s milk, almond milk, or soy milk (the easiest and my favorite way to use chia seeds)
-Add chia seeds to beaten eggs, soak for 10 minutes and make an omelet.
-Use chia seeds as a thickener: since chia seeds form a gel in liquid, they can be added to soups, stews, sauces, and marinades to help thicken the liquid instead of corn starch or flour.
-Mix chia seeds into one-dish meals: Lentil or bean soups, slow-cooker recipes, and casseroles (simply stir the seeds into the broth or sauce and monitor the consistency for about 15 minutes to determine if additional liquid is necessary. If so, consider adding the primary liquid base of the recipe (milk, broth, water, or juice, for instance).
Most often we use chia seeds to prepare a simple no-cook pudding that can be served for breakfast, light dessert or afterschool snack. We also use leftovers in our lunch boxes, just like you can see in the picture below. My 7-year-old has mastered the simple recipe and is very proud of preparing it all by herself.
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
- 2½ cups almond milk
- 3 tablespoons agave nectar
- ½ cup chia seeds (3 ounces)
- 1 cup of sliced fruit such as oranges, mangos, strawberries or peaches.
- In a 1-quart jar, combine the almond milk with the agave nectar.
- Close the jar and shake to combine.
- Add the chia seeds to the jar, then close and shake well.
- Refrigerate until very thick and pudding-like, at least 4 hours or overnight, shaking or stirring occasionally.
- Serve the pudding in bowls and topped with fruit.
What is your favorite chia seeds recipe?