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?

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • Torkel Stalhand

    Take a package of frozen berries, I use blueberries, blackberries and raw berries. Put them in your blender with three times the amount of water and blend to a juicy soup. If you want you can add a bit of salt, cinnamon or any other taste to it.
    Put the berry juice in a large bowl and add sufficient amount of chia seeds to turn it into a porridge after a while. I use to do it in the evening and then adjust with some more water or seeds in the morning if needed.
    Now you have an amazing stock for your morning porridges. Just take a few cups of it and put on your breakfast plate and ad sliced apples, almonds, nuts, seeds, raisins, kokos chips, goji berries or anything else you like. Eat it with Almond mild or whatever milk you like… jummy!

  • Mmm…the cinnamon chia spread sounds awesome! I’m going to have to try that! I just posted an in-depth article on Health Benefits of Chia, so now I’m stoked to find some good recipes!

  • But since chia has such a great amount of minerals, this isn’t so much a problem. Phytic acid is also a phytonutrient. Here’s a quote from Environmental Nutrition Newsletter: Phytate or phytic acid has long been considered a nutrition “bad guy.” However, new research from animal and test tube experiments has shown that phytate also functions as an antioxidant and may actually play more of a protective role in health.

  • Make sure you buy Australian chia only. The best is from the Australian Chia Co where their growing conditions are ideal to obtain the best quality chia.

  • 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

    why do my posts keep disappearing?

  • 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.

  • I coarse grind pepperoncini, garlic and throw in chia seeds and blend in mayo and mustard for a spread with a kick.

  • Luciana

    I use them a lot! Do they still soak moisture from the batters when the are baking or freezing? Or should I let them soak for longer before freezing/baking?