Though you might not guess it from their tiny and unassuming appearance, chia seeds are quite the powerhouse — these nutrient-dense seeds pack a surprising amount of calories, fiber, and vitamins in a small dose. Not only that but chia seeds are also loaded with antioxidants, making them a worthy addition to your diet. For many people, it's not a question of whether or not to add chia seeds to their diet, but rather how to add them; after all, the minuscule seeds are too small for snacking a la sunflower or pumpkin seeds, and it's not immediately obvious what types of recipes they might fit into.
Our best recipes that feature chia seeds will help you effortlessly incorporate the superfood into your diet, offering inventive ways to tweak recipes that you probably already enjoy on the regular. Are you a fan of overnight oats? Well, you're in luck, because chia seeds make for the perfect nutritional boost without really changing the flavor of your oats. Fans of smoothies and pudding can also rejoice, as chia seeds are a worthy addition to both of those treats, as well.
When soaked in liquid for a while, chia seeds absorb it and become somewhat gelatinous and jelly-like — great for adding a textural boost to pudding. If you aren't a fan of such a consistency, don't worry, you can also blend chia seeds right into a smoothie bowl or bake them into cracker form without even noticing that they're there.
Classic Chia Pudding
You really can't beat a tried-and-true, classic recipe, and this one for chia pudding is sure to become a go-to in your household. All you need to make this pudding is milk (your choice of dairy or dairy-free), chia seeds, maple syrup for sweetening, and a dash of vanilla extract. That's it. The magic happens when you put the pudding in the fridge to chill; this recipe calls for doing so for at least an hour, though you could prep the pudding before bed and leave it overnight. The result is a thick, creamy, jelly-like pudding that packs a nice nutritional boost thanks to the chia seeds.
Since the pudding itself is such a neutral base, you can get as creative as you'd like with the toppings. This recipe calls for adding fresh fruit, nuts, or shredded coconut to your pudding, but these are optional and by no means the only toppings that would work well. If you want to add a touch of richness, consider topping off your pudding with chocolate chips or a drizzle of chocolate syrup. A drizzle of honey, extra maple syrup, or a sprinkle of cinnamon are also great options that will pair nicely with the neutral pudding.
Recipe: Classic Chia Pudding
Cranberry Chia Jam
If you've made homemade jam or jelly before, then there's a good chance that the recipe called for pectin, a thickener that lends itself well to the desired spreadable texture of such condiments. In case you don't have any pectin handy or just don't want to use it, this cranberry chia recipe is pectin-free and instead relies on the natural thickening nature of chia seeds to make the jam what it is. You also don't have to wait for the jam to chill in the fridge for hours on end — from start to finish, you could be serving this jam in less than 30 minutes.
Of course, a plain old chia seed jam doesn't sound like the tastiest thing in the world, so cranberries step in to lend their sweet-tart flavor profile to the mix. Fresh or frozen will work just fine, and you'll also need both orange juice and zest, maple syrup, and cinnamon to round out the jam. Once your spread is ready to go, you can use it as you would any jam — it's especially tasty on toast, bagels, or even waffles.
Recipe: Cranberry Chia Jam
Strawberry Chia Oatmeal Bars
This recipe is a two-for-one deal in that you'll make both strawberry chia jam and oatmeal bars, all conveniently rolled into one package. You'll start by making the strawberry chia jam — an easy process, one that simply involves breaking down the strawberries over the stovetop and then combining them with chia seeds, orange zest, and some maple syrup. You'll want to get the jam going first so that it has some time to cool down and thicken up as you prepare the oatmeal batter for the bars.
The process of making the oatmeal crust is nearly as simple as making the jam. You'll combine oats with some common baking staples and a less common one, a water/flaxseed mixture also known as a "flax egg," to create the base for the bars. Then it's a matter of assembling — first, you'll bake the oatmeal bar base to help it firm up, then you'll spread on the strawberry chia jam and sprinkle some oatmeal crumbles on top before baking again to golden brown perfection.
Recipe: Strawberry Chia Oatmeal Bars
Vegan Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
One of the easiest ways to showcase chia seeds is to transform them into a pudding. Now, some recipes keep things nice and simple and call for combining chia seeds with milk; this vegan chocolate chia seed pudding recipe makes things a little more interesting by combining chia seeds, soy milk, cocoa powder, maple syrup for sweetness, and a little bit of cinnamon for added warmth. The result is a pudding that's just as easy to make as the basic recipes, but one that packs in some chocolatey goodness.
This recipe is ideal for vegans who struggle to find store-bought puddings that check the dairy-free box — thanks to the use of soy milk (keep in mind that you could use any plant-based milk) and vegan chocolate chips as a final garnish, this recipe effortlessly checks various dietary boxes, including the gluten-free one. All you have to do is give the pudding at least an hour to chill and get that gelatinous texture, then you can enjoy it as-is or top it off with some berries for an extra-sweet bonus.
Overnight Steel Cut Oats
Many overnight oats recipes call for using rolled oats, but this one takes a different approach and gives steel-cut oats a moment in the spotlight. Combined with almond milk, honey, vanilla extract, and chia seeds, this recipe really couldn't be simpler, but we mean that in a good way. Ideal for those who haven't made overnight oats before, this recipe serves as a great starting point and as something that you'll want to keep handy when you need a quick and easy breakfast option.
Like all overnight oats recipes, this one requires plenty of chilling time — in fact, you'll need to let these oats sit in your fridge for about 12 hours, so the earlier you can get them going in the evening, the better. The good news is that you won't have to worry about heating anything up or doing anything else to your oats come morning time. They'll be ready to eat as-is, though you might want to top them off with an extra drizzle of honey or perhaps some fresh fruit to make things a little more exciting.
Recipe: Overnight Steel Cut Oats
Blueberry-Lemon Tapioca Pudding
Chia seeds and tapioca pearls have a lot in common when you really think about it — both common pudding additions, they create a certain gelatinous texture when soaked in liquid. It only makes sense that the two ingredients come together in one single pudding recipe, which is exactly what happens in this blueberry-lemon tapioca pudding. You get the best of both worlds, with the tapioca and chia seeds tag-teaming to create a texturally interesting pudding that also boasts some nice nutritional benefits.
Of course, you might not even be paying attention to the texture of the pudding so much as you are the irresistible flavor, made possible thanks to another dynamic duo of blueberries and lemon. The two fruits complement each other nicely, with the blueberries providing a sweet juiciness and the lemon adding a citrusy brightness. Since this pudding is cooked rather than chilled, you won't have to wait hours and hours to enjoy it — instead, it'll be ready to go in about 40 minutes.
Recipe: Blueberry-Lemon Tapioca Pudding
At-Home Acai Bowl
Acai bowls have become quite trendy over the years, offering an inventive way to enjoy a smoothie and get a hefty dose of fruit all in one go. Instead of paying exorbitant prices for an acai bowl at your local cafe or smoothie shop, you can make your own right at home thanks to this easy recipe. Frozen acai berries, banana, and coconut milk serve as the base for this bowl, and all you have to do is blend it all up and resist the urge to pour it into a glass and pop in a straw — pour it right into a bowl instead.
The real fun comes in figuring out which toppings to adorn your frozen smoothie bowl with. This recipe calls for a colorful assortment of strawberries, bananas, blueberries, chia seeds, granola, almonds, shredded coconut, and sunflower seeds, though you can go as minimal or maximal as you'd like. Keep things on the fruity side and just opt for fresh fruit as a garnish. Or, lean towards the crunchy side and include nuts, coconut, and chia seeds — whatever you've got handy in your pantry should work just fine.
Recipe: At-Home Acai Bowl
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Seed Crackers And Pumpkin Hummus
If you enjoy nibbling on pumpkin or sunflower seeds as a snack, then you're in for quite the treat thanks to this gluten-free pumpkin seed crackers recipe, which conveniently comes with a pumpkin hummus, too. These crackers incorporate an impressive amount of seeds into the mix, including pumpkin, sunflower, chia, sesame, and flax seeds. The result is a crispy-crunchy cracker that you can take satisfaction in knowing you made completely from scratch — so unlike so many types of store-bought crackers out there, these ones are completely gluten-free.
While you could pair your pumpkin seed crackers with whatever dip your heart desires, this recipe does walk you through the steps of making a pumpkin hummus, which pairs so nicely with the neutral crackers. The dip recipe is pretty standard for your typical hummus, with chickpeas, lemon juice, and olive oil serving as the base. Things get more exciting thanks to the addition of pumpkin purée and pumpkin pie spice — a nice autumnal take on the classic dip, and one that you can easily enjoy year-round.
Cranberry Almond Chia Pudding
When it comes to chia pudding, you can really dress it up or down as much as you'd like. This recipe opts more for the dressing-up side, though it does keep things relatively simple with a neutral chia pudding base that consists of chia seeds, soy milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla. The real fun comes into play thanks to the cranberry topping, which consists of cranberries (you're going to cook them, so fresh or frozen will work), fresh orange juice, and some more maple syrup.
Before you can top off your chia pudding jars with cranberry sauce, you'll need to make sure the pudding is set, which will take about one to two hours of chilling. You can plan accordingly and start making the cranberry sauce towards the tail end of the pudding's chilling time, so then you can dive right into your treat as soon as the cranberries are done simmering. Aside from the sweet-tart sauce, be sure to top off your cup with some slivered almonds and orange zest to round out the flavors and textures of this simple yet exciting pudding.
Recipe: Cranberry Almond Chia Pudding
Cinnamon Banana Walnut Smoothie
If you want to reap the benefits of chia seeds but aren't a fan of their thick pudding texture, then this cinnamon banana walnut smoothie is the ideal solution. As the name suggests, you'll blend bananas, cinnamon, and walnuts together to create a unique smoothie that relies heavily on warm, nutty flavor profiles. Chia seeds, almond milk, Greek yogurt, and honey help round out this smoothie, which tastes just as good for breakfast as it does for dessert.
Keep in mind that you don't just want to throw walnuts into the blender and call it a day — you'll have to prep them before they're smoothie-ready, which takes a little patience. The first step in this recipe calls for soaking the walnuts in water for at least four hours though ideally overnight — this softens the nuts significantly and helps them break down easier when blended, so whole nut chunks won't scratch your throat with each sip. If you remember to prep the walnuts the night before, then you can whip this smoothie up in the morning in just a matter of minutes.
Recipe: Cinnamon Banana Walnut Smoothie
Chocolate Coconut Smoothie Bowl
Dutch-process cocoa powder comes together with frozen bananas and coconut cream to create an irresistibly rich, chocolatey, and luxe smoothie bowl that is easily customizable. To create the base of this smoothie bowl, all you have to do is blend together the ingredients to create a nice, thick smoothie-like layer; as for the toppings, this recipe provides plenty of suggestions, but those are ultimately up to personal preference and what you have stowed away in your pantry.
To stay on the chocolate-coconut theme of the smoothie bowl, you might be so inclined to top yours off with some cacao nibs, coconut yogurt, and coconut flakes. Granola is another great option here, offering a nice crunchy contrast to the smoothness of the bowl itself. Chia seeds or flax seeds can easily be swapped in, either in place of the cacao nibs or in addition to them. There are no rules to topping off your bowl, but whatever you do, don't miss out on the delicious combination of chocolate and coconut, so be sure to highlight those flavors as much as possible.
Recipe: Chocolate Coconut Smoothie Bowl
Breakfast Quinoa Bowl With Plums And Dark Chocolate
We don't typically associate quinoa with sweet toppings, though there's no reason not to — after all, the neutral-tasting grains are a blank slate just begging for a touch of creativity. This breakfast quinoa bowl certainly packs in the creativity, opting to cook the quinoa in coconut milk instead of water for a creamy take that works well as a breakfast base. You'll also find cinnamon, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract mixed into the quinoa, with finishing garnishes of dark chocolate, coconut flakes, and fresh plums honing in on the sweet nature of the dish.
While you certainly don't want to skip the plum, dark chocolate, and coconut toppings, there is plenty of room for more additions. Chia seeds, and extra fruit like strawberries, or almonds all make for worthy additions and will help bulk up your morning bowl of quinoa.
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
It's not always easy to find a good vegan dessert recipe, especially ones that truly rival their dairy-filled counterparts. Luckily, these vegan chocolate chip cookies are just as good as their non-vegan counterparts, featuring easy swaps like vegan butter and dark chocolate (vegan) chips to ensure a plant-based status. You may be wondering — what about the egg? Indeed, nearly any cookie recipe requires an egg to serve as a binder, and this one is no different; instead of using a real egg, however, you'll use a "flax egg," AKA flax seed mixed with water.
In case you don't have flaxseed on hand, fear not — you can still make this recipe using chia seeds. Simply combine the same amount of chia seeds (in this case, 1 tablespoon) with water to create a similarly thick and binding mixture that will help hold your cookie dough together. A big perk to this recipe is you don't have to allow the cookie dough to chill or rest. Simply mix together the dough, roll it out into balls, and bake your vegan confections.
Recipe: Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Strawberry Overnight Oats
You don't need a plethora of berries to make for an exciting oatmeal experience — sometimes, it's best to just let one single berry take center stage and really shine. In this case, strawberries get their turn in the spotlight thanks to this strawberry overnight oats recipe. Not only will you top off your chilled oats with some fresh strawberries, but you'll also include chopped-up ones right in the oats themselves. But why stop there? This recipe also calls for strawberry jam in the mix, which adds an extra depth of sweetness.
Though this recipe does keep the toppings nice and simple by only calling for extra strawberries, there are plenty of other inclusions you could opt for. Sprinkle on some granola, coconut flakes, or chia seeds, or even add that last option to the oat mixture before chilling overnight. Keep in mind that if you do add the chia seeds to your overnight oats before chilling, it will affect the texture of the oats a little bit, but they'll still be delicious nonetheless.
Recipe: Strawberry Overnight Oats
Read the original article on Tasting Table.