5 Ways to Eat Heart-Healthy Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a hot health food; loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, bone-building calcium, and satiating fiber, we can’t really blame health conscious consumers for wanting to sprinkle the magical seeds on all of their meals, but these babies also take some getting used to. On their own, chia seeds are exactly what their name denotes — unprocessed seeds that can be absorbed by the body unlike flaxseeds. One ounce of them, about 2 tablespoons, contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals, according to WebMD.

Chia seeds are extremely versatile because they don’t have much of a flavor on their own, meaning they can be added to sweet as well as savory foods. Many people sprinkle them on cereal, sauces, vegetables, rice dishes, yogurt, baked goods, and more, and they even swell up to 12 times their weight in liquid, motivating consumers to blend them in puddings, smoothies, oat dishes, and drinks. Thus, the chia seeds can be used in a number of recipes, and even star in some of them, and the hardest part about jumping on the chia train is simply getting started. These seeds certainly yield a funky texture, but it’s one that consumers can get used to, and today, we’re highlighting five popular ways that people are now gobbling the seeds up.

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Source: iStock

1. Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Perhaps the most popular way to eat chia seeds is by blending them up into a chia seed pudding, a dish that resembles tapioca but has an incomparable texture. It’s gelatinous and gooey, and the seeds may get stuck in your teeth at first, but after a while, it’s easy to take quite a liking to the interesting pudding, and now the dish has become all the rage. What’s more, chia seed pudding is extremely easy to perfect, as all it takes is a few ingredients and time to sit in the refrigerator, and then you have your heart healthy pudding at the ready. Here’s a recipe for Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding from A Beautiful Mess, because if anything can make a daunting dish taste good, it’s chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1½ tablespoons maple syrup

Directions: In a small bowl or jar combine the first four ingredients. Give it a good stir and refrigerate for at least one hour. After the first 30 minutes give the mixture a stir, so it doesn’t clump together. Once you’re ready to eat stir in the maple syrup. Top with your favorite fruit or chopped nuts.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

2. Toasted Granola Bars with Chia and Flax Seeds

Another easy way to incorporate chia seeds into your diet is by baking them into some homemade granola bars. This hides their taste and texture a bit, but still allows you to enjoy their nutritional and satiety benefits. These Toasted Granola Bars from Carla’s Confections are packed with not one, but two kinds of seeds, meaning you’ll really deserve post-dinner dessert after this healthy snack. With quinoa, chia seeds, flax seeds, and healthy nuts, these bars are loaded with fiber and only good-for-you ingredients. Eat them yourself or send them off with your kids and pat yourself on the back for your extra healthy snack.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup raw or roasted sunflower seeds (unsalted)
  • ¼ cup raw or roasted pumpkin seeds (unsalted)
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • ½ cup flax meal (ground flaxseed)
  • ½ cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or other oil
  • Pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, or a couple grinds of fresh
  • ¼ – ½ cup raisins (to preference)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius). Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and lay out oats, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds as flat as possible on the baking sheet, and toast in preheated oven 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients, including the toasted ingredients.

In a small measuring bowl, combine the honey, peanut butter and oil, stirring to combine with a fork. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. Line a baking dish (8 by 8 or 9 by 13 ) with foil and spray foil with non-stick spray. Press the granola mixture in the pan down flat.

Place in fridge for a couple hours to set up, then remove from pan by lifting up on foil, remove foil, and cut into desired size granola bars. Store in an airtight container in fridge until ready to eat. It should last you a couple weeks at least.

Smoothie

Source: Thinkstock

3. Raspberry Chia Seed Smoothie

You can also slurp your chia seeds by blending them in a smoothie and taking your snack or meal on the go. Whether you drink your smoothie or eat it with a spoon, you’ll still be able to detect the chia seeds, but their presence will be out-shown by your smoothie flavor of choice, especially if the drink is packed with other tasty and good-for-you ingredients. Take this Raspberry Chia Seed Smoothie recipe from Real Simple and give the refreshing drink idea a whirl. This smoothie won’t only taste good, it’ll also do you good, and you’ll have effectively met many of your nutrition requirements for the day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • ¾ cup apple juice
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

Directions: Place the raspberries, apple juice, yogurt, banana, chia seeds, and vanilla, if desired, in a blender. Blend until smooth and frothy.

Homemade Lemon Poppyseed Muffin

Source: iStock

4. Lemon Chia Seed Pudding Muffins

Then we have the ever popular option of making chia-filled baked goods. Baking your chia seeds in appetizing snacks and desserts keeps them from tasting too earthy, and in the case of Lemon Chia Seed Pudding Muffins from Something Swanky, the seeds can even be mistaken for poppy seeds. No one needs to know they’re eating heart-healthy fatty acids for breakfast. These sweet albeit tart muffins pack a punch of fiber and protein, and they’re perfect for the spring season.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest or 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ½ cup milk
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 package lemon flavored instant pudding mix
  • Optional: ½ cup powdered sugar
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions: Cream together the butter, sugar, eggs, lemon extract or zest until creamy. Mix in remaining ingredients until smooth. Distribute batter evenly among muffin tin cups (about 15). Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Optional: Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice to make a glaze (add: more lemon juice for a thinner glaze; more powdered sugar for a thicker glaze). Dip the tops of the muffins in the glaze before serving for an extra sweet lemon kick!

Oatmeal, blueberries, milk, nuts

Source: iStock

5. Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds

Lastly, overnight oats: the phenomenon of combining rolled oats, yogurt, chia seeds, and milk in a container the night before you’re ready to eat them, so you can simply have your oats cold in the morning. Sure, it may sound unappetizing at first, but this breakfast has become a household staple for many health conscious consumers, and that’s because it’s loaded with fiber, protein, healthy fats, and it tastes delicious. Sometimes, oatmeal is best served cold, and chia seeds take it to the next level by making your breakfast that much more voluminous and satiating. Here’s a recipe for overnight oats from Kath Eats Real Food. Take Kath’s outline and pick your own oatmeal toppings. The possibilities are endless.

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup rolled oats
  • ⅓ – ½ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup plain yogurt
  • ½ banana
  • ½ tablespoon chia seeds
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch cinnamon

Directions: Stir everything together in a bowl. Place in fridge overnight. In the morning top with something crunchy and something with healthy fats – like nut butter or nuts.

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