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Best recipes with chia seeds: how to add the nutritional powerhouse to your diet

Chia seeds naturally thicken this lush blackberry jam.
Chia seeds naturally thicken this lush blackberry jam.
Simply Dish/Used with permission

Move over, quinoa. There’s a new trendy seed on the block. Though chia seeds have been around for a long time (they were actually cultivated by the Aztecs), they’re gaining in popularity for their dense nutrients and their weight loss benefits.

What is a chia seed?

The salvia hispanica plant (commonly known as chia), a relative of mint, is the source of the chia seed. The word “chia” is an Aztec word meaning “oily,” and the seed has been cultivated through history for its oil. The texture is much like a poppy seed, but when chia seeds are added to liquid, they expand, taking on a texture that’s almost like gelatin.

What are the benefits of chia seeds?

Chia seeds are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Just one ounce of chia seeds contains four grams of protein, plus high percentages of calcium, phosphorous, and manganese. Each ounce also contains a full gram of fiber, making it a helpful addition to diet plans, as it can aid with the feeling of fullness.

Chia Seed Recipes

With the benefits of chia seeds being so high in as little as one ounce, it makes sense to want to add them to your diet, whether for weight loss or a nutritional boost. You can stir them into just about anything, such as yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies, or make use of them in a baked dish.

Try one of these hand-picked recipes for reaping the benefits of chia in the tastiest way possible.

Chia Fresca Recipe

One of the simplest things you can do with chia seeds is add them to water, making a healthful and nutritious agua fresca that’s a boon to dieters. The resulting nutrient-rich water is a super way to stay hydrated while exercising. Customize the add-ins to your own taste: lemon, herbs, fresh ginger, and cucumber slices all add flavor as well as health benefits.

Blackberry Chia Jam Recipe

This spreadable, fruity jam is as delicious as it is pure. Using only two ingredients, the insanely easy recipe from Simply Dish relies on the natural sweetness of the fruit, while the chia seeds do the thickening. Toast never had it so good.

Banana Muesli Smoothie Recipe

If you’re using chia seeds for weight loss, start the day with this filling smoothie. The bananas, muesli, and chia give you a triple dose of fiber. Opt for a light soy milk to cut the calories.

Chia Seed Breakfast Bowl Recipe

This breakfast bowl looks so beautiful (click it -- you really have to see it), that you won’t even be thinking about the health benefits.

Fennel Chia Seed Crackers with Arugula Pesto Recipe

This recipe takes some time and effort, but the results are worthy, especially for those on a raw or gluten-free diet regimen. Chia seeds add even nutrition to a crisp, healthy cracker that’s already full of nutrients.

Simple Chia Berry Pudding Recipe

If you’ve been wondering how to eat chia seeds and need an uncomplicated recipe, this one really shows off what they can do. Blend fruit with a few simple ingredients, and watch the seeds thicken the mixture into pudding like magic.

Lentils with Chia Seeds Recipe

You don’t have to wait for breakfast time to enjoy the benefits of chia seeds. This savory lentil stew is loaded with spices in a thick, tomato base you can enjoy for dinner or pack in a thermos and tote for lunch. This one comes from Lisa Oz, so you know it’s delicious and good for you.

Maple Cinnamon Chia Almond Butter Recipe

Making your own nut butter is well worth the trouble, and the results are far better than anything you can buy in a jar. This almond butter is silky smooth, and the chia gives it a fiber boost. Spread it on anything you like, if you can resist just eating it off the spoon.

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

A rich chocolate pudding may not sound like health food, but this one starts with antioxidant-rich dark cocoa powder, and combines it with other wholesome ingredients to make a lush chilled dessert with healing power.

Strawberry Apricot Oat Cake with Chia Seeds Recipe

This moist and fruit-laden cake is the perfect recipe for someone wanting to ease into the idea of chia seeds. While it’s on the decadent side, the chunks of whole fruit, Greek yogurt, and of course the chia seeds make it more wholesome than similar pound cake-type recipes.

More ways with more ingredients:

Another healthy ingredient you might not know how to use: chayote squash. Learn how to cook with chayote squash.

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Learn some fall and winter recipes that work with almost any kind of squash.

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