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Why You Need to Be Eating Chia Seeds—And 23 Ways to Do It

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Don’t let their size fool you. Small but mighty, chia seeds pack plenty of nutrition into a tiny package. Derived from a plant called Salvia hispanica, they were originally a primary energy source for the Aztecs and Mayans, who named them after the Mayan word for “strength.”
Just a single one-ounce serving of chia seeds (about two tablespoons) contains 11 grams of fiber and four grams of protein, along with generous amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium and vitamins B3, B1 and B2. They’re also a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease while acting as an anti-inflammatory.
And because of their low calorie content (137 calories per serving), chia seeds fit nicely into any weight loss or maintenance plan. Plus, the high fiber and protein content helps keep you feeling fuller for longer, which keeps you satisfied until your next planned snack or meal.
Now that you know why you should embrace chia seeds, you might be wondering how. Most experts say it’s best to consume them when mixed with other foods or liquids, as some people may have difficulty swallowing the seeds in their dry, raw form.
“When combined with a liquid, chia seeds develop a gelatinous texture, so it's great for binding or thickening in recipes,” notes food blogger Renata Trebing, who often uses the seeds in her jam recipes in place of processed thickeners. They can also help to enhance the texture of gravies, sauces, dips and dressings. Or, to add chia seeds in a pinch, you can simply sprinkle them into smoothies, smoothie bowls, yogurt, oatmeal or pudding.
Because chia seeds absorb so much liquid, they also make a great egg substitute when baking, notes Karen Gilman, registered holistic nutritionist and founder of Nutrilicious. Simply combine one tablespoon of ground chia seeds and three tablespoons of water and let the mixture sit until thick.
Looking for more ways to get creative in the kitchen with chia seeds? Some of our favorite chefs, nutritionists and chia lovers shared their inspired ideas.

Power Packed Granola: An easy homemade granola recipe packed with chia seeds, flax seeds and fiber that tastes even better than it smells.

Image courtesy of Six Sisters Stuff

Strawberry Overnight Oats: Choose from two delicious varieties for an easy, healthy, make-ahead breakfast.

Image courtesy of Family Food on the Table

Paleo Chia Seed Jam: Made with frozen berries, it’s sweetened with coconut sugar and contains no refined sugar.

Image courtesy of Tastes Lovely

Strawberry Lemon Chia Seed Protein Muffins
: Packed with protein and bursting with juicy fruit, they make the perfect grab-and-go breakfast or snack.

Image courtesy of Amy's Healthy Baking

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie With Spinach
: Full of wholesome ingredients, it’s a great way to get in some extra greens.

Image courtesy of Family Food on the Table

Salty Maple Nut Energy Bites
: Fuel up with these vegan, gluten-free bites before or during your next endurance workout, or toss some into your bag to power your workday.

Image courtesy of Fannetastic Food

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
: Made with a rich base of sunflower seeds, these whole-grain cookies are nut- and sugar-free and high in protein.

Image courtesy of Occasionally Eggs

Overnight Chia Seed Pudding With Spicy Melon Puree
: A simple and delicious breakfast without any hassle.

Image courtesy of My Pure Plants

Overnight Warm Chocolate Coconut Oats
: Prepare this thick, creamy and delicious breakfast anytime and let it sit in the fridge until morning.

Image courtesy of The Healthy Apple

Lemon Chia Seed Protein Cookies
: Brighten up your day with sunshiny, lemony flavor—plus, with plenty of protein and nutrients, they’re healthy enough for breakfast!

Image courtesy of Amy's Healthy Baking

Vegan Chocolate Chia Pudding
: Made with dates and non-dairy milk and flavored with orange zest, it makes a creamy, healthy breakfast or light dessert.

Image courtesy of Occasionally Eggs

Healthy Peanut Butter Energy Balls
: Made with just four wholesome ingredients, they make a great post-workout snack, afternoon snack or on-the-go energy boost.

Image courtesy of Family Food on the Table

Vegan Vanilla Almond Cupcakes
: Super moist and naturally sweetened, they take less than five minutes to prepare.

Image courtesy of The Healthy Apple

DIY Superfood Chocolates
: Chia seeds add the “super” element of these decadently healthy desserts.

Image courtesy of Nourish with Renata

Nut and Seed Bars
: Filled with vitamins and minerals, these homemade granola bar alternatives contain only whole ingredients that you can actually pronounce.

Image courtesy of Nutrilicious

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
: Although it’s rich and decadent, the chia seeds add some healthy fats and protein.

Image courtesy of The Pretty Bee

Cozy Sunflower Seed Banana Bread
: Made with tahini, dates, and seeds, this ultra-healthy, banana bread is packed with wholesome ingredients.

Image courtesy of Occasionally Eggs

Matcha Green Tea Chia Oats
: This bright, citrus-inspired breakfast is enhanced with the health benefits of matcha and chia seeds.

Image courtesy of Sunkist

Keto Carrot Cake Oatmeal
: This thick, creamy cereal alternative can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Image courtesy of The Big Man's World

Raspberry Pineapple Smoothie Bowl
: Packed with vibrant fruits and nutrient-dense toppings.

Image courtesy of Nourish with Renata

Peanut Butter Pie
: This vegan recipe folds the superfood ingredient into the creamy, nutty filling for an extra nutritional punch.

Image courtesy of The Spruce Eats

Strawberry Chia Seed Muffins
: Coconut flour muffins with a bright and flavorful strawberry chia jam swirl.

Image courtesy of Leelalicious

Superfood Chia Seed Parfait
: This colorful parfait is a healthy way to start your morning.

Image courtesy of The Pretty Bee

What are your favorite ways to sneak chia seeds into your diet? Any favorite recipes? Share in the comments below!

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NASFKAB 2/11/2019
Thank you for the ideas of using chia seeds Report
MARYGOLD5 2/11/2019
Thanks. Report
DGRIFFITH51 2/10/2019
I mix 2 tbs each of chia seeds, ground flax and hemp seeds and add 1/2 cup milk and microwave for a nice breakfast cereal. Top with fresh berries and sweetner of choice. Report
DGRIFFITH51 2/10/2019
I mix 2 tbs each of chia seeds, ground flax and hemp seeds and add 1/2 cup milk and microwave for a nice breakfast cereal. Top with fresh berries and sweetner of choice. Report
DGRIFFITH51 2/10/2019
I mix 2 tbs each of chia seeds, ground flax and hemp seeds and add 1/2 cup milk and microwave for a nice breakfast cereal. Top with fresh berries and sweetner of choice. Report
RCLYKE 2/10/2019
everything looks so good Report
ETHELMERZ 2/10/2019
Do not be alarmed when you mix then with liquid and it looks snotty..... Report
2DAWN4 2/10/2019
Thanks for the great idea! Report
HRTBRKR2013 2/9/2019
Thanks for the ideas. Report
PATRICIA-CR 2/9/2019
I LOVE chia! Report
SANS2SASSY1 2/9/2019
Thanks Report
MSROZZIE 2/8/2019
Good article and good need-to-know information. I include Chia Seeds in my smoothies and yogurt. Report
super duper Report
ZRIE014 2/7/2019
very helpful Report
MNABOY 2/6/2019
thanks for sharing Report
HRTBRKR2013 2/6/2019
these are some awesome ideas to try thanks for helping with some ideas. Report
GMACAMI 2/6/2019
I throw them on top of a salad Report
NANCYPAT1 2/6/2019
I love to add chia seeds to a lot of things - one of my favorites is to add it to nuts and other seeds and use the mixture as a coating for chicken and fish instead of breaded coatings. Report
I love chia seeds and add them whenever I can. Report
DMEYER4 2/6/2019
thank you Report
JANIEWWJD 2/6/2019
Thank you for all the great ideas!!! Report
ANHELIC 2/6/2019
Thank you Report
thank you Report
Great information! Report
GEORGE815 1/3/2019
Thanks Report
KHALIA2 12/17/2018
They all sound and look so good! I must be hungry. Report
KATHYJO56 11/23/2018
I love chia seeds in just about anything you can use them Report
Ver-y in-ter-est-ing! Report
Thank You for a great article. Report
Good to know, thanks. Report
thanks for sharing Report
My friends put them on their morning oatmeal. I looked at the grocery store and couldn't find them, where the heck are they sold at? Report
I love salmon. so I will probably try that one with the chia seeds. Report
I have been using chia seeds as much as I can in the past year. this article is really helpful Report
I mix chia seeds into yogurt, scrambled eggs, soups, stews, some sauces. I've never noticed any particular taste from them. Report
Have them and now I have more recipes to use them in! Thanks! Report
... purchased chi seeds for my smoothie's...nice to know of their other uses... Report
I might try the chia bars. Report
I have to agree with some others on Chia seeds - what to do with them - toss them. Ugh. I've tried to think more positively but chia "pets" aside I just do not like them. Report
I am trying to use chia seeds but don't really like them, at least as is, sprinkled on whatever I am eating. I find they stick to my teeth and gums when they swell up with water. So I have relegated them to smoothies. Thank you for some other ideas! Report
I use them in muffins, pancakes, waffles, quick breads, veggie burgers, veggie "meat"balls & loafs. We toss them into sandwich wraps or pitas, yogurt, oatmeal, spreads and dips. I also use them in dishes with quinoa, couscous, rice & other grains. They are really versatile. Report
I love the flavor of chia seeds. I'm happy to see some recipes. I usually eat them in Greek yogurt. Report
I was looking for some ways to use chia seeds - thanks so very much Report
I didn't know it could be used in meatloaf!!!! Report
They're fairly high fiber so start small. 1/2 -1 cup mashed fruit, 1 T. Chia seeds, let it sit a few minutes = instant jam. Berries work really well.
I sprinkle some on top of lettuce based salads. Report
add a sprinkle to warm oatmeal Report
By soaking chia seeds in water for a few hours before consuming them in recipes, stomach/abdominal cramps are avoided. Report
I sprinkle chia seeds on my avocado toast Report