The tiny and humble chia seed, despite being truly old-school (it was an important part of the Aztecs’ diet), has started to hit the culinary big-time in the last few years, transitioning from novelty plant beard producer to bona fide superfood. And signs point to it trending harder than ever before in 2014.
This renaissance is thanks to people catching on to chia’s many nutritional perks (it’s packed with fiber, fatty acids, protein, and minerals) and unique physical properties: It looks like a poppy seed but acts more like tapioca, swelling up and turning gelatinous when you soak it. That sounds weird, but is great for making no-cook pudding, jelling low-sugar jams, replacing eggs, and more tricks that come in especially handy in raw and vegan cooking.
If you want to know more about the nitty-gritty of chia seeds, check out this handy guide on Nutrition Stripped. But above all, know this: no other plant in history has done so much to vastly increase the amount of pudding recipes on the internet. And for that, we should all be grateful.
Here are some excellent ideas for how to start incorporating chia power in into your own eating routine.
1. Lemon Chia Seed Scones with Sweet Lemon Glaze
It’s over, poppy seeds. What did YOU ever do to up my daily fiber intake? Get the recipe.
2. Raspberry Chia Seed Jam
Soak, blend, and commence eating by the spoonful. Get the recipe.
3. Grain-Free Chia Buckwheat Pizza
Buckwheat: not actually a type of wheat (in case you were wondering). Get the recipe.
5. Kale & Farro Salad with Lemon Chia Dressing
Chia adds body and creaminess to this Caesar-esque (but vegan) dressing without adding fat. Get the recipe.
6. Banana-Peanut Butter Chia Seed Muffins
You can toss a couple tablespoons of chia seeds into lots of different baking recipes to add a little crunch and a significant nutrition boost. Get the recipe.
8. Tomato Chia Jam BLT
Chia seeds are a great way to thicken jam without using pectin or a ton of sugar, which means you can make a tomato jam that’s not too sweet to be a great sandwich condiment. Get the recipe.
9. Chia Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
COOKIES? for BREAKFAST?
10. Chocolate, Banana & Peanut Chia Pudding
With puffed rice and caramel sauce on top, if you don’t mind. Get the recipe.
11. Homemade Gluten-Free Chia Tortillas
Give these a try if you’re having trouble finding GF tortillas or wraps that actually bend instead of crumbling into sad pieces. Get the recipe.
12. Apple Superfood Oatmeal
Chia can add nutrition to any hot breakfast cereal and give it a filling, extra-creamy texture. Get the recipe.
13. Blueberry & Toasted Coconut Chia Pudding Parfait
15. Cornmeal & Chia Seed Crusted Tilapia
Not your mama’s fish stick. Get the recipe.
17. Vanilla Chia & Berry Pudding
Blitzing pudding in a blender gives it a smooth, creamy texture, but you can also skip that step if you like it tapioca-style. Get the recipe.
18. Raspberry Lemonade Chia Drink
You might be a little weirded out by the gelatinous texture at first, but it’ll grow on you. Get the recipe.
19. Flourless Pumpkin Chia Seed Blondies
Quick, healthy, and everything-free (gluten, dairy, nuts, guilt). Get the recipe.
20. Cheesy Chia Seed Crackers (Gluten-Free & Low Carb)
21. Chocolate Avocado Chia Pudding
Good enough to fool almost anyone. Get the recipe.
22. Chia Meatballs with Easy Marinara Sauce
The chia makes a great binding ingredient to help these beef meatballs hold their shape — no eggs or grain necessary. Get the recipe.
24. Chia Seed Crispbread Crackers
The best kind of bird food. Get the recipe.
25. Chai Spiced Chia Pudding with Pomegranate Sauce
27. Raw Chia Falafel
Chia binds together a veggie mix of carrots, zucchini, and mushrooms to make this healthy, no-cook falafel. Get the recipe.
29. Chocolate & Ginger Chia Seed Cookies (Vegan & Gluten-Free)
30. Eggless Coconut, Walnut & Banana Bread
Soaked chia seeds are an awesome vegan egg replacer for baking. Get the recipe.