A guide on how to eat chia seeds
These tiny black and white seeds were a staple food for the ancient Mayans and Aztecs, and today you can find them in every grocery store around the world.
Chia seeds are small, flat, and ovular with a shiny and smooth texture. Their color ranges from white, to brown or black. The only difference is the color, the white chia seeds are comparable to the black ones in nutrition and health benefits.
Some people prefer to use white chia seeds for their recipes in which the presence of black seeds would be visually undesirable.
In this article, we will show you how to eat chia seeds and some interesting ways to include these healthy seeds into your diet.
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Why chia seeds are good for you?
The main reason these seeds are so popular today is their nutritional punch and also it’s so easy to add them to your everyday recipes.
They are a great source of fiber, omega fatty acids, protein, and antioxidants. Chia seeds deliver the maximum amount of nutrients with minimum calories. The especially important part of chia seeds is their high fiber content.
They contain about 11 grams of fiber per ounce (28 grams), which is about 42% of your daily fiber needs. Fiber is vital for all aspects of health and is the key to weight loss and digestion. Fiber helps slow digestion and makes you feel full longer by soaking up fluid and expanding in your digestive tract.
Not just the fiber, chia seeds also are an excellent source of phosphorus, manganese, calcium, sodium, and potassium.
To provide a comparison, 3 tablespoons of chia seeds has:
- 30% more antioxidants than blueberries
- 2x more potassium than bananas
- 6x more calcium than milk
- 15x more magnesium than broccoli
Before start eating chia seeds it is good to know what are their benefits and potential side effects, so here is a great article for you where you can learn all about the benefits and side effects of adding chia seeds into your diet.
Whole vs. ground chia seeds
There is no strict way how you can eat chia seeds. First, you have several options to choose from whole, soaked, or ground chia seeds.
Whole chia seeds – You don’t need to grind chia seeds to incorporate into your diet. You can eat them whole and get a punch of energy and nutrients.
There are many ways how to eat whole chia seeds – add them to yogurt, oatmeal, shakes, and smoothies. Also, whole chia seeds are a great addition to a healthy dessert recipe and homemade bread.
Soaked – You should never consume dry chia seeds. They can absorb many times their weight in water and expand and may become lodged in the esophagus, especially if there is a history of swallowing problems.
Important Before Eating Chia Seeds
You must soak chia seeds before consuming, at least 20-30 minutes in liquid. Chia seeds will expand to up to 10-12 times their weight. Make sure to add liquid to them before consuming.
After they have already expanded they are safe to eat and will easily be digested. Maybe a tablespoon of chia seeds looks like a small amount but due to its high soluble fiber content, they expand quickly when mixed with water and form a thick gel-like formation, and expanding in your stomach.
It’s important to note that when you eat chia seeds, it is recommended to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated because during digestion chia seeds absorb water from your body.
Ground – You can also grind chia seeds in a blender or coffee grinder to break down the hard outer shell. Ground chia seeds can be used as flour in gluten-free recipes. You can make pancakes, muffins, bread, and even pasta. After grinding it’s recommended to store them in a sealed glass container in your refrigerator or freezer.
How to soak chia seeds in water?
Soaking chia seeds into water is the simplest way to eat them. To soak chia seeds in water simply mix them in a 1:10 ratio of chia to water and let them sit for 30 minutes to two hours.
This is equal to one and a half tablespoons of chia seeds in one cup of water. They are ready for eating when you get gel-like formation and not be too watery. Soaked chia seeds can last up to five days refrigerated.
Best ways to eat chia seeds
Chia seeds can be used in a variety of different ways! There isn’t just one strict way how you can eat chia seeds, there are actually many ways!
Here we will present you some recipes with chia seeds and the best is that you only need 1-3 tablespoons of chia to reap all the benefits from these small but mighty seeds.
Make a chia pudding
As we mentioned before and you should remember this, chia seeds are safe to consume as long as they can absorb the liquid before being swallowed. The best way to do this is to make your own chia seeds pudding.
Making this pudding is so easy and it is a great alternative for traditional yogurt or pudding, also it is a perfect choice for people avoiding dairy.
Stir together your chia seeds and milk alternatives like almond or coconut milk in a mason jar or bowl. The golden rule for chia seed pudding is 3 tablespoons chia to 1 cup of liquid ratio. If you want a thicker chia pudding you can use 4 tablespoons to 1 cup of liquid, but if you are making it for the first time start with 3 tablespoons of chia seeds.
When the chia pudding mixture is well combined let it sit for 5 minutes. After that give it another shake/stir to break up any clumps of chia seeds. Cover and put the mixture in the fridge for 1-2 hours or overnight.
The final product should be nice and thick, not liquidy. If it’s not thick add more chia seeds, 1 teaspoon, stir and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
Chia pudding will stay in the fridge for 5-7 days! Because chia seeds have no flavor the pudding will taste like the liquid and sweetener you are using.
If you want your pudding to have a sweet taste add some cinnamon, or vanilla extract, honey, maple syrup, or whatever you like. You can also add some fruits, nuts, and the options are endless.
If you haven’t tried this healthy recipe now it’s time! It’s creamy, satisfying, and loaded with nutrients.
Chia seed smoothie
Chia seeds make smoothies healthier and help keep you full longer. You should know that the timing when you add the chia seeds into your smoothie makes a difference to the consistency and texture of your chia smoothie.
Adding chia seeds at the start of blending will let them soak longer in the smoothie mix and give them more time to be milled by your blender. This making the smoothie thicker.
If you like a more liquid smoothie you can add your chia seeds towards the end of the blending.
Do you have to soak chia seeds before putting them in a smoothie?
It’s recommended to soak the seeds in water for about 10 minutes (1 part seeds to 3 parts water). The soaked seeds become gelatinous and blend up well in a high-speed blender.
- In a small bowl mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and 3 tablespoons water. Allow this mixture to sit for about 10 minutes for the chia seeds to start to soften and gel.
- Transfer the mixture to a blender. Add 1/4 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup dairy-free yogurt, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries (or other berries if you want), 4 small strawberries.
- Blend everything together in a blender. Serve immediately.
You can add chia seeds to any of your favorite smoothies. This is just our example of how to eat chia seeds in smoothies.
Adding chia seeds to any smoothie is going to increase the nutritional value and give you additional benefits!
Chia seed jam
When making jam with chia seeds all you need to do is mash up some fruit and stir in a few tablespoons of chia seeds. In a few minutes, the chia seeds will absorb the fruit juice and thicken it to a jammy consistency.
Traditional jams contain a lot of sugar, but not chia jam. The fruit is usually sweet enough on its own, for fruits that are tart you can add about 1 tablespoon of honey.
Chia seeds vs. fruit ratio
The best ratio of chia seeds to fruit when making chia jam is 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to 2 cups of fruit. If your fruit is very juicy or you like a thicker consistency, stir in more chia seeds 1 teaspoon at a time.
You can use any kind of fruit, the fruit can be fresh or frozen, it’s easy to make in small batches, no canning is required. The best thing is that this chia seed jam that we will present you here tastes great!
Add 2 cups of fruit to a saucepan over medium-high heat. The fruit will warm up and start to break down. Then mash it with a spoon or you can use a potato masher until it reaches your desired consistency.
Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of chia seeds and give them a good stir until combined. Remove from heat, your jam will start to thicken quickly as it cools.
After only 5-10 minutes it is ready for use. You can add it to your toast, waffle, pancake, etc. You can also pop it into a sealed container refrigerate it for further use, it lasts about one week in the fridge.
As an egg substitute (Chia Egg)
Another interesting way of eating chia seeds is to use them as an egg replacement in your vegan recipes. Chia seeds are a perfect way to stick to vegan without stressing about losing the texture that eggs create.
Making chia egg is really simple:
Take one tablespoon of chia seeds and place them in a small bowl or a cup. Add 3 tablespoons of water and wait for about 10-15 minutes until it becomes a gel. Use this chia egg in your recipe just as you would a regular egg.
Chia egg doesn’t have much of a taste and it blends into your baked goods, the taste really isn’t detectable.
Good to know
Do not use chia seeds egg replacers in recipes that require 3 or more eggs.
Chia seed oatmeal
If you are looking for a healthy breakfast that takes less than 10 minutes to make, then chia seeds added to oatmeal with almond or coconut milk are the right choice for you!
This is maybe the easiest and healthiest way how to eat chia seeds and reap all the benefits from them.
- Place 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 cup oats, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, and 1-2 tablespoons unsalted nuts in a small saucepan and let it come to a boil.
- Cook about 5-7 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Place it in a bowl and garnish it with more nuts, fruits.
Adding chia seeds to your favorite oatmeal requires very little effort, and you will get a healthy breakfast that you can change its taste every day by changing the fruit you use, nuts, or the milk (almond, coconut, etc.).
Add chia seeds to your baked goods
An easy way to eat chia seeds is to add them to your baked goods. Baking with chia seeds is safe because they will absorb liquid as they bake. Also, these seeds don’t add much taste to your dish, so you will have the same taste as your cookies, muffins, or homemade bread but are more nutritious and healthy.
Some recipes use chia as primary flour others use it as a binder or an egg replacer. Whole chia seeds are good for recipes with a texture like muffins, cookies, or bread with nuts. Ground chia seeds work better for brownies, cakes, and less textured baked goods.
Because chia is an excellent binder and thickener it is a great choice for gluten-free baking. It can be used in recipes that call for ground flax seed, but in this case, you should use 2/3 as much because it is a more powerful binder.
A small number of chia seeds can also replace guar gum or xantham, for most recipes 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground chia seeds can serve as a binder.
Just remember, chia seeds absorb liquid so our advice is not to throw them into random recipes but to find specific recipes with them. Otherwise, your baked goods: muffins, cookies, bread, etc. may come out extremely dense!
Other simple ways how you can eat chia seeds is to simply:
- Stir into sauces, salad dressings, marinades
- Sprinkle into breakfast cereals, stews, soups, salads
These are some of the more common ways to eat chia seeds, its compact size and mild flavor make it easy to slip a spoonful into pretty much anything-so experiment!
The serving size for adults is 20 grams daily (about 1.5-2 tablespoons). For children ages 5-18 years the recommended amount is 1.4 to 4.3 grams daily.
Yes, by putting 1/3 cup of chia seeds into 2 cups of warm water you can make chia gel, which can be used as a homemade alternative to commercially produced energy gels.
Eating too many chia seeds can cause digestive issues. They are rich in fiber and excessive fiber intake can cause problems like constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain.
Final words about chia seeds and how to eat them
Chia seeds are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, and important minerals like manganese, calcium, and phosphorus. These super healthy seeds are so easy to incorporate into your diet.
You can easily make chia pudding, chia jam, use them as an egg substitute in your vegan recipes, sprinkle them over salads, soups, yogurt, etc.
From all written above we can see that there are many different ways how you can use chia seeds and they are so easy to implement in any recipe.
Also, they come in handy when you’re looking to shed a few pounds, because as we mentioned before they have high fiber content that will make you full faster since they absorb 10 times their weight in water, but they also reduce food cravings.
If you want to know more about chia seeds and their link with weight loss, here is an article for you: Chia Seeds vs. Flax Seeds: Which Is Better For Weight Loss?
Chia seeds are a great superfood addition to a healthy diet, try to incorporate these tiny but mighty seeds into your healthy meals and try out one of the options presented in this article!
Related chia seeds articles:
- Chia Seeds: Benefits and Potential Side Effects
- Chia Seeds vs. Flax Seeds: Which One Is Better For Weight Loss?
- Chia vs. Flax vs. Hemp Seeds – Which One Is the Right Choice for You?