13 very nifty things to do with chia seeds

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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