13 very nifty things to do with chia seeds

Posted on April 23rd, 2013

Chia seeds are the new quinoa. The new ingredient to wriggle its way into the mainstream after a few decades as the fibrous, whole-mealy staple of the granola belt. I know many of you out there are still trying to work out what to do with the damn things once you’ve bought a packet. And since I hate the idea of anyone buying a packet of anything and having it sit there going to waste, henceforth a wee list of clever applications….


Cashewy chia pudding, from the I Quit Sugar Cookbook

I’ve written on why chia seeds are so healthy before if you want to catch up. They’re godsends when you’re quitting sugar. They help to control your appetite because they fill you up (with the addition of liquid they swell to 17 times their original size) and they’re a fabulous source of protein. They’re also full of nutrients – vitamins A, B, D, E, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium – which help with the detox hell that some can suffer.

But today it’s all about how to eat them. Wrap your laughing gear around these ideas:

1. Make my healthy cashewy chia pudding from the I Quit Sugar book (image above). I make mine in a jar and carry it to the office, or on planes when I’m travelling. It’s filling, can be made the night before and is spill-proof!

2. Use in place of an egg in recipes.  Substitute 1 tablespoon of chia seeds (preferably finely ground) + 3 tablespoons of water per egg.

3. Thicken up soups or gravies. If you don’t want to use cornstarch or other thickening agents, add a teaspoon of chia seeds or chia bran at a time until you reach your desired thickness. Bear in mind it takes a minute or two for the seeds to swell and work their magic. Be paaaaaaaatient.

4. Sprout chia seeds to use in salads. These things are quite zesty…a bit like broccoli sprouts. Chia seeds are mucilaginous so you can’t use the usual tray or jar sprouters. Instead…

  1. Sprinkle a thin layer of seeds on the bottom of an unlaquered terra cotta dish or plate.
  2. Put the terra cotta dish in a larger plate of water.
  3. Cover with another plate.
  4. Small amounts of water permeate the terra cotta plate upon which the chia seeds sit, and provide exactly the right amount of water to sprout them.
  5. Day 2, lightly mist the seeds (or sprinkle)  with water.
  6. Day 3, they should be right to eat.

5. Or try this easy tuna spread idea: Dump a small lunchtime can of tuna and springwater or brine in a bowl with about 1 tsp chia seeds, then use as you normally would on sandwiches or in salads.

6. Add to a chocolate brownie or truffle recipe to turn them into protein bars. Throw in a few tablespoons of protein powder while you’re at. Look out for some sugar-free brownie recipes in the Soon-To-Be-Released I Quit Sugar Chocolate Cookbook!

7. Make my Meal-in-a-Biscuit crackers.  And Coco-nutty granola. 

Also from my I Quit Sugar book.

8. If you’re an athlete, try a chia-coconut goob. 

Just mix coconut water and some seeds to form an electrolyte-laden “goo”. I got my Dad onto this. He runs marathons and does 24-hour mountain bike races and swears by the idea (and he’s a hard guy to get on board!). It’s infinitely better than the commercial goobs and energy drinks.

9. Use as a slow cooker aid. Cooking with a slow cooker can often leave you with a lot of excess liquid. I do two things. The first: I thicken the sauce by adding some seeds or chia seed bran. The second, I…

10. Make a stock spread: I remove any excess liquid (a very brothy, nutritious mixture) and put in a jar with some chia seeds and then eat with toast, over rice, pasta or vegetables.

11. An easy thick omelette: Add chia seeds to beaten eggs, soak for 10 minutes and turn into an omelette or frittata.

12. Make crackers: make a thin batter of ground chia seeds and milk and cook in a slow oven to make crackers.

13. Make a cinnamon chia butter. Add ground seeds to nut butter and amp the nutrition. Or add to butter with some cinnamon and spread on hot toast.

Do you have any chia wisdom to share? Feel free to add your comments below. Any other ingredient you’re wanting help with?

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  • Angela Johnson

    Stock spread! Genius!

    I use chia everyday for a variety of things, but have to try the spread. Ta :)


  • http://www.allaboutmama.com Lynda

    I’m a big fan of chia seeds too. I make sure the kids and I get a serve of them every day by just adding them to our porridge. I add them to the porridge when cooking and it adds a really delicious nutty taste to it.


  • http://www.whitetigerdesigns.com.au Joanne Tighe

    Thanks Sarah, I’m liking the sound of those crackers.


  • http://www.lisacollins.massagetherapy.com Lisa

    Heyyyyyy Sarah!

    Just getting into chia seeds (or they are getting into me!). Nora made me a chia pudding with chias, almond milk, vanilla bean and stevia. OMG! Delish! I’ll have to get her recipe. So…how do you know that you won’t grow a “Chia Pet” in your stomach after eating them?

    ps. We hope to see you in Sydney next month. Nora’s coming to speak at the Mindd Forum!


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    Love to see you…please let me know if you have time for tea when in town. Or if you want to grab dinner…I can arrange somewhere “on our page”. I’m not doing the Mindd Forum…long story.


    Lisa Reply:

    Yes we would love to have tea with you! Our schedule is tight but we do have a few days to play right after the forum and before we depart Sydney on May 26th. Nora will also be speaking in Dubbo on May 23rd. We’ll contact you when we are in Sydney. (((hugs)))


  • http://www.livehealthysimply.com jessica Nazarali – Health Coach

    I’ve just started using chia seeds as a egg replacement in baking and it works so well!


  • Brooke

    Perfect subject matter as I sit down to eat my greek yoghurt and chia seeds this morning – my favourite quick morning snack :)


  • http://www.instagram.com/bronwynq Bronwyn

    Asking the obvious here, but ground chia seeds – Is that just either in a food processor or mortar and pestle, or is it possible to buy it like that?


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    Yep, you can buy chia bran and ground chia…but just as easy to do in a blender/mortar


  • Amy

    Chia seeds are a must in my morning smoothie!


  • C

    This is inspired by Sarah’s pudding.

    I mix chia seeds, raspberries (I get bulk organic Victorian ones during summer that are classed as ‘jam berries’ from a farm near my parents place, they do very well frozen and this works out to be quite economical), unsweetened almond milk and leave o’night in the fridge- I use a small pyrex container. Drizzle a little tahini on top in the morning and sprinkle with cinnamon.


    Angie Reply:

    Yum. that sounds amazing.


  • http://www.easyph.com.au Larissa

    I just pop a teaspoon of chia seeds into my waterbottle. Add some chlorophyll and you’re set. It looks a little like pond-water with frog eggs but so nutritious!


  • Nicole b

    Mine go into my morning Greek yogurt with fruit. I also add them to my smoothies and granola.


  • http://www.nourishstratford.com Sara

    Chia Jam is the best – so simple. And I send chia daily for lunch with my daughter for her apple sauce – she loves it. Coconut pudding is my favourite. And I pretty much put it in everything. I’ve also recently learned they are a KEY secret ingredient in gluten-free sourdough bread.
    I can’t wait to try your sprouting idea – that’s a new one for me. Thanks for this post!!!


  • Jess

    I respectfully disagree with you on chia, Sarah. I do hope that chia is not the new quinoa. Nothing beats the warm nutty smell of a pot of quinoa cooking, nor the taste of this valuable source of carbs, aminos and vitamins. Cold, slimy, chia slop on the other hand is difficult to warm to. Five years ago I jumped on the chia bandwagon when they burst onto the scene, after all if David Wolfe was telling us to eat them, then they must be good, right? With time, I realised I didn’t really like them and I found it caused bloating and constipation. I also doubt the nutrients are extracted from the seeds anyway. I know this because I can see whole chia seeds dotted throughout my bowel movements! (too much info, sorry about that). Unlike quinoa which can be soaked to release phytic acid, chia seeds cannot. They have also been linked with inflammation and allergenic effects, http://butterbeliever.com/should-you-eat-chia-seeds/

    PS. If you are a fan of quinoa, then please support Australian grown quinoa, from Kindred Organics Tasmania.


    Miranda Reply:

    I agree Jess. Many of the so called ‘superfoods’ don’t work for everyone. Given that chia swells it is not a good thing for those who have digestive issues. Increasing fibre for some people (myself included) does the complete opposite for constipation – more fibre can make it a whole lot worse. I’ll be sticking to my oats, brown rice and on occasion my quiona. But no chia for me….


    Mia Reply:

    Have you read Fibre Menace? It’s next on my book list, indicates as you describe – fibre increasing constipation, not fixing it. There was a study out recently involving chronically constipated people who decreased their fibre intake, resulted in cessation of symptoms. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435786/

    Food for thought.


  • http://slowingit.blogspot.com.au/ Michelle Ellis

    After reading ‘Born to Run’ (Christopher McDougall) a couple of years ago I tracked down a recipe for Iskiate, the chia drink used in the book. My whole family loves it! It’s just a tablespoon of chia seeds soaked in a glass of water, with the juice of a lime and a splash of maple syrup. Since quitting sugar I have omitted the maple syrup… not nearly as nice, but healthier.


  • http://www.africanaussie.blogspot.com Africanaussie

    For breakfast this morning I mixed 1/2 cup old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup yoghurt and 1 Tbs chia seeds, 1 pkg stevia, into a jar. A couple of hours later I ate it at work – so yummy and filling.


  • Meg

    Here’s a recipe adapted from a Teresa Cutter recipe….

    Soak 1/4 cup chia seeds over night in 1/2 cup water, and soak 3/4 cup quinoa in water overnight.
    The next day rinse the quinoa thoroughly and add to your blender with the chia gel, 60ml coconut oil, 1/2 cup water, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Blend for a few minutes then put mixture into greased muffin tins and bake for about 40 minutes or spread onto a greased tray and bake until brown to make bikkies. Yum!


  • Kylie

    Love them in my morning smoothie:
    1 Banana
    1 Kiwi Fruit (skin on)
    Slice Red Paw Paw
    Almond or Rice Milk
    Kale leaves
    Tablespoon each Sunflower Seeds & Chia
    = Full until lunch time!!!


  • Mia

    I get kinda jacked off at how expensive chia is. I love the idea of chia pudding for breakfast but a small package of the stuff is over $30 at my health food store. Rip! I can probably partly blame this on Perth being so expensive.


    Bec Reply:

    Try online! The chia co sell it for cheaper on their website, and you can also get it from iherb.com. I get my coconut oil from iherb.com and it’s cheaper than getting it locally even with postage included!! And a bigger package


    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Your ideas intrigue me…


    Jane Reply:

    Bec I do Iherb too – they are just brilliant! I also get coconut oil from there. I’d rather buy locally but of economic necessity I stick eith Iherb . Their range id great too!


    Amanda Reply:

    Jane, Bec which brand do you buy from iherb? thanks

  • Lisa Ingram

    From the lovely Queen of Lean. Mix with coconut oil and some cocoa. Add stevia if you need sweet. Freeze like a chocolate freckle. Eat like one!


  • http://www.theparentingfiles.com.au Tahlia @ the parenting files

    What a great list of ideas. Everyday breakfast too. I sprinkle over my healthy muesli for an extra boost :)


  • Bec

    Chia jam! I don’t have a recipe but I’m sure Google.


    Sara Reply:

    Chia Jam

    1 cup strawberries or seasonal berries (frozen and thawed)
    2 Tbsp chia seeds
    1 Tbsp water
    Sweetener of choice – like raw honey

    Mash berries with a fork or pulse in the blender. Mix in chia, water and honey. Cover and place in fridge while it sets, 30-60 minutes.
    Chia seeds taste like seeds in jam. Grind chia to remove this texture.


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  • Beth

    Hi I’m very new to all of this, but I have a question….. Does the phytic acid in chia stop all the fabulous stuff from being absorbed?


    Jess Reply:

    Yes it does Beth. Phytic acid binds to other minerals and stops you from absorbing them, and unfortunately no amount of soaking grains/seeds will remove all the phytic acid. Check out this article from Weston Price,



    Beth Reply:

    Thank you so much. That’s a great article.


  • Em

    Mia-I agree with Perth prices but there are a couple of ways to get chia cheaper. I got a huge pack for $30 or less from memory from chemist warehouse (chia co brand). There’s also lots of chia in supermarkets, or at the herdsman, as well as online. Good luck!


  • http://www.vitalenatural.com.au Ananda

    I love the chia seed pudding but love the “full fat” version with coconut milk…it’s all good fat of course :-)


  • Karly

    I mix a tablespoon of chia seeds with 4 tablespoons of natural yoghurt topped with some frozen blueberries. It’s my on-the-go breakfast – I pack it before I leave and then by the time I get to work the blueberries have thawed (giving the chia seeds extra liquid to soak up) and it’s nice and pudding-like!! And it’s the ONLY thing to keep me full ALL morning!


  • http://www.gfblog.com.au Katie

    Mango/Chia Smoothie
    3 bananas or 2 mangos or 1 punnet of strawberries
    1 ½ cups milk (rice milk, almond milk or soy milk)
    1 tablespoons honey (optional)
    2-3 tablespoons White Chia Seed
    2 cups of water
    1 cup of ice
    Blend… its really nice in the morning as a smoothie
    Also found on my blog


  • http://cheffingit.wordpress.com Sarah

    Like the idea of the coconut water and chia seeds as goob! Just posted a recipe for chocolate pudding with chia seeds…and packed with 7 other super foods. Yum! I love these little seeds!


  • Shannon

    I have chia seeds with freshly squeezed orange juice every morning, luv them!


  • http://daretogofree.blogspot.com Ally

    I switch out a few tbsp of oats from my morning bowl of porridge and replace them with chia seeds – Super thick and creamy (and bulks it up!).


  • Yvonne

    I give one tablespoon of Chia Seeds to my 13 year old dog daily and she is doing great!


  • http://Www.ingredientsofwellness.com Angie

    Tx Sarah and everyone for these lovely ideas. I live in HK and chia seeds are extortionately expensive here so I buy online from iherb.com but this means I can only get products that are generally USA sourced or USDA certified. Frankly I do t have much faith in USDA certification.
    Does anyone know of an Australian online site for good organic products including the aust chia brands that ships overseas? Pls. Pls.


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  • http://www.oilseeds-bolivia.com chia bulk supply

    “Chia seeds are the new quinoa”? I am not sure, both are produced in Bolivia on a pretty large scale but chia is nothing like quinoa, different in type and also different in taste, quinuo is something like a cereal while chia is a seeds. However, both are so called healthy superfoods.


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  • http://lifelearningtoday.com Kris

    I just made a variation on your Cashewy Chia recipe.
    I used hemp milk – get more protein.
    And I added 1/2 mashed banana (instead of the berries)
    Also added 1/3 t cardamom spice.
    No need for any other sweetener.
    Is this still a healthy desert? Or does the fructose in the banana kill it health wise?
    or is it a matter of degree/amount that you eat?

    I found I didn’t need to eat much (1/2 cup) and felt “full” fast. It’s like rice/tapioca pudding it’s so good. Great alternative to ice cream when I’m having a craving.


  • ? geoff
  • Nicola

    Hi – do these need to be activated? If so, how the heck do you do that? Your article on IQS about activating nuts and seeds suggests you should throw away the soaking water as there will be toxins in it, but here you clearly consume the soaking water or milk. Confused! Same goes for Flax, sesame, poppy and other small seeds – how does one activate? And do you activate nuts and seeds before grinding to flower? Thanks


  • Nicola

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  • Roseanne Tilden

    I looked on this site to see if someone had made a berry pie and used chia seeds as the thickener. I didn’t see any note to that point so I am posting what I found and it worked. I used 4 cups of raspberries, 1/4C of sugar and 1/4C of Stevia in the Raw. Then 4tsp of chia seeds. Heated this and poured it into a baked pie crust. It has set up perfectly in the frig. The recipe I was working from called for 3Tbl of cornstarch which was what I was wanting to replace. I don’t know that this is a consistant proportion(4tsp of chia seeds replace 3T of cornstarch) that works every time, but it did this time.