Chia seeds have been a pretty new thing for me over the last couple of years, but they are far from being a new thing to the health industry. I keep reading about how beneficial they are for heart health and weight loss, but I’ve never really looked into what a chia seed is and what to do with it.
Aside from sprinkling them in a protein shake, I was at a loss of how to consume these little suckers. But through some quick research and scanning Pinterest, there are dozens of things you can do with these seeds.
Used as early as the 16th century, chia seeds were as important of a food crop as maize for the southern parts of the world, most notably Mexico and Guatemala. But now, this “serum seed” isn’t just used in Central and South America. It has exploded all over the world in nutrition and health drinks/foods thanks to the famous Chia Pet of the 1980s. Once these little guys came on the market, people started paying attention to the green sprouts in their children’s rooms.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, these little seeds can absorb liquid up to 12x-27x their size, which is why it is perfect for weight loss since it fills you up quicker, but they also act as an egg replacement for vegans. When chia seeds are combined with milk or water, they make a thick paste or jelly that mimics the egg texture.
There is a warning to these seeds though: don’t eat them straight. I recently read an article about a man who swallowed a tablespoon of seeds and then chased it with a glass of water. The magic of these seeds happens prior to eating them when they expand in the cup or bowl…not in your stomach. You can imagine the discomfort he felt as the seeds proceeded to expand within his own body after the fact.
Below, I have put together two different ways of using chia seeds. The first is a delicious pancake recipe that worked like gang-busters for my husband, and the other is a pudding that is perfect for a warm day or for that moment of sheer intense craving for sweets. I also did find a muffin recipe that did very well at a bake sale, but it is not vegan friendly. I included the recipe nonetheless because, well, they are pretty darn good.
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Coconut Chia Pancakes
adapted from The Healthy Maven
2 tbsp Chia seeds
6 tbsp water
1 cup oat flour or blitzed oats
1/4 cup gluten-free or coconut flour
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey
2 ripe, mashed bananas (about 100g)
1 1/2 cups almond milk
pinch of salt
1) Whisk together the Chia seeds and water and set aside. In ten minutes, this will become a gel.
2) In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
3) In a smaller bowl, mash the banana and combine with extracts, honey, and almond milk. Once combined, whisk in the “Chia egg.”
4) Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients in three batches so it will combine completely. The batter will be thick.
5) Heat a skillet over a medium high heat and coat with cooking spray. Add 1 and 1/2 tbsp of batter per pancake. When it bubbles on the edges, it’s ready to flip. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on hot spots on your skillet.
6) Top with anything you like and serve hot!
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Cinnamon Spiced Chia Pudding
makes 1 serving
1) Whisk together the Chia seeds and the milk until fully incorporated.
2) Add the honey and spices and whisk completely.
3) Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, better if overnight.
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Carrot Coconut Morning Muffins
makes 35 mini muffins
makes 10-12 large muffins
adapted from Food Network
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup oat flour, or rolled oats blitzed in a blender
1/2 cup gluten-free flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
3/4 cup almond meal, or whole almonds blitzed in a blender
2 large, ripe bananas
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 1/2 cups grated carrot
Coconut for garnish
Cooking spray or muffin liners
1) Pre-heat your oven to 375 Fahrenheit/176 Celsius. Line your muffin pan with paper liners, or grease completely with cooking spray.
2) Combine the chia seeds with the milk and whisk. Set aside for at least 10 minutes. This will allow the seeds to soak up the milk.
3) Sift the oat flour (or blitzed oats) with the gluten-free flour in a bowl. Combine with the baking powder and salt and add the shredded coconut. Set aside.
4) In a separate bowl, mash up the two bananas, whisk in the two eggs, pour in the melted coconut oil, honey, flavorings, and chia seed mixture. Combine the flour mix with the grated carrots until just combined. Don’t stir too much or the dough will toughen.
5) Spoon into your muffin tin and garnish to taste. Depending on the size of the muffins, bake for 15-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6) Allow the muffins to cool for 5-7 minutes before taking out of the pan. These will keep for three days in the fridge or for three months in the freezer.
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How do you use Chia seeds? Post your favorite picture of a Chia pet!