Chia seeds: Chia seed benefits and recipes to try today

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  • Chia seeds are everywhere – in salads, drinks, desserts and healthy baking recipes – but why are they so popular and how can you eat them?

    Mintel revealed in a report that between 2014 and 2015, there was a 70% increase in the percentage of food and drink products launched containing chia seeds, which explains why we’ve been seeing them everywhere in recent years!

    Chia seeds are thought to have been a source of energy for ancient Aztecs and Mayans, but are they actually good for you and how can you add them to your daily diet?

    Below we’ve answered all your chia seed related questions…

    Chia seed benefits: Are chia seeds good for you?

    Chia seeds have become extremely popular because of the nutritional punch they pack. According to the Nutritional Science Research Institute, 100g of chia seeds contains 20g of protein, 32g of fat, 41g of fibre, as well as calcium, iron and other important nutrients.

    And there are more chia seed benefits too. Rounding all the best bits up these little seeds contain:

    • Protein
    • Healthy fats
    • Fibre
    • Calcium
    • Iron
    • Omega-3

    But why do these things make them healthy you might be wondering. Well, for one including chia seeds in your diet can help you consume more fibre, which is essential for a healthy digestive system. Then there’s the benefit of more omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their anti-inflammatory effects.

    Also a pro on the health benefits list is the fact that chia seeds are relatively high in protein, so they could help boost your intake of plant protein, especially if you’re vegan or vegetarian.

    Because of the combination of fibre, fat and protein, these nifty little seeds are slowly absorbed and promote a slow release of energy that helps keep your blood sugar levels stable, too.

    How to eat chia seeds

    The easiest way to add chia seeds to your diet is to top your dishes with a spoonful of whole, raw seeds, but there’s a lot of other ways you can get your chia seeds fix. Here’s how to eat chia seeds…

    Chia seeds in soups and stews
    Soaked chia seeds can be used to thicken soups and stews – all you have to do is soak them for a few hours or overnight, and add them to your dishes as a thickening agent.

    Chia seeds in baking
    Ground chia seeds can be used as a replacement for eggs in egg-free baking. You can buy chia seeds ground or you can grind them at home using a coffee grinder.

    Use 1 tbsp of ground chia seeds and 3 tbsp of water to replace one large egg – but bear in mind all recipes are different so it might take a bit of experimenting to find the right ratio.

    Chia seeds in water

    Known as agua fresca de chia, chia seed water is simply the seeds stirred with water, lime juice and sugar to make a cold drink.

    Toasted chia seeds
    Adding chia seeds to dishes like salads or even your morning porridge might be the easiest way to incorporate chia seeds in your diet, but you may want to toast them before you do, as this brings out the flavour and texture.

    To toast chia seeds, toss them in the pan or baking tray at low temperature and make sure you don’t burn them as this would ruin their nutritional value. On a high heat this should only take a minute or two.

    Toasted chia seeds can be used to top anything from couscous and breakfast cereals, to yogurts, salads and soups.

    Chia seed recipes

    Chia pudding
    One of the most popular chia seed recipes is chia pudding. When the seeds are left to soak in water overnight, they absorb the liquid to form a gel – commonly known as a ‘chia pudding’.

    You can add flavour to it by using fruit juice or milk to soak instead of water, or you can also add spices like ginger and cinnamon, or even a little cacao or honey to sweeten it.

    Deliciously Ella’s healthy cookies

    These orange and cardamom cookies are another recipe we love made using chia seeds, and they only take 40 mins to make. The perfect treat for when you’re trying to be good but still need an afternoon pick-me-up.

    Overnight oats

    Adding chia seeds to your diet can be as simple as sprinkling them on to your breakfast cereal, like in our overnight oats recipe with chocolate and peanut butter.

    Where can I buy chia seeds?

    Chia seeds are widely available in all the big supermarkets and online grocery shops and roughly cost somewhere around 33 for 500g.

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