Happy Thursday! As promised, this week I have a fun giveaway for you guys. Today’s featured ingredient? Chia seeds.

Chia seeds are one of my kitchen staples.I’ve been a fan since I first experimented with them back in 2009 or 2010. It’s weird how, all of a sudden, that’s kind of a long time ago. One thing I’ve noticed is that people tend to be super-enthusiastic and “OMG, I love chia” or, like, “No. Just no.” Or they’re like, “What the f*** are chia seeds? Like the toy?”

Courtesy of Amazon

Same plant, yes, but different use. Chia seeds come from the plant Salvia Hispanica, a relative to mint. These tiny seeds can absorb up many times their volume in liquid (I’ve seen numbers ranging from 12x to 27 x), so when you put them in water, milk, yogurt, or other fluid, they swell up to form a gel-like substance. They also pack a lot of nutrition into a tiny package.

One tablespoon provides:

  • 60 calories
  • 4.5 grams fat (0.5 grams saturated)
  • 5 grams fiber
  • 3 grams protein

Like flax seeds, chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids (the plant-based ALA variety). They’re also a decent source of calcium, with about 6% of your daily needs per tablespoon. Unlike flax seeds, chia doesn’t need to be ground for your body to be able to absorb the omega-3s.

*Just a note of caution: do not attempt to down a spoonful of chia seeds sans liquid, especially not if you have any history of swallowing difficulty. That could put you at risk of an obstruction. Not good. You need to mix them with enough liquid to allow them to go down easy instead of sticking in your esophagus.

So what do you do with them?

Cook them into oatmeal or use them as a topping.

-Stir a spoonful into yogurt. They’re especially great for making overnight oats-like concoctions.

-Add them to smoothies,either as an ingredient or as a topping.

mocha smoothie

Chia pudding is a tapioca-like dessert you can make in just a few minutes–the hardest part is waiting for it to be ready.

-Mix with water to make a chia gel you can use as an egg substitute in vegan or other egg-free recipes. This cake I used to make when I lived with an egg-hater is a great example.

-Shake up with water and a squirt of lime juice to make chia fresca, a refreshing drink. You can add a hint of honey or agave for sweetness.

-Use as a garnish for grain dishes.

-Sprinkle a teaspoon on top of your avocado toast.

And those are just some of the many ways you can use them. I’ve also played with incorporating them into homemade granola and energy bars.

Experience and experimentation have taught me, though, that I’m better leaving the bar stuff to the pros (we all have our strengths and weaknesses). The folks at Health Warrior make a variety of bars and other superfood snacks with chia seeds. It’s a convenient way to enjoy a healthy, high-fiber snack on the go. I love how their ~100-calorie chia bars are the perfect serving size when you just need a little something to get you over the hump between meals.

I have a box of the acai flavor to give away to one lucky reader. Unfortunately, this giveaway is only open to US readers. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment. Next week, I’ll announce a randomly selected winner.

chia warrior bar
Have you ever eaten chia seeds? 

This post has been part of another Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.

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