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What are chia seeds, are they good for me, and how do I use them?

Written by Ali Donahue
What are chia seeds, are they good for me, and how do I use them?

Quick Take

Keep seeing vegan recipes that call for chia seeds and left scratching your head? We're here to help! Here's the scoop on chia seeds - what they are, why you should eat them, and how to enjoy them as part of your healthy plant-based diet.

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On this page

What are chia seeds?

What are the health benefits of chia seeds?

7 easy recipes with chia seeds

Chef's tip: use chia seed as an egg replacer (here's how)

Where to find chia seeds

Key Takeaways

Free Download: The Ultimate (little) Guide to Plant-Based Eating

What are chia seeds?

Ch-ch-ch-chia! That’s where most of us first learned about chia seeds — the commercials of the terra cotta “pets” with the fast-growing green hair.

The seeds in chia pets are, indeed, the same as the chia seeds that you read about on every healthy eating blog. They are both tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica, which is related to mint.

But don’t eat your chia pet! They aren’t tested and approved for consumption.

The superfood chia at the grocery store is ready to eat. They probably originated in Central America, where they may have been a staple superfood of the Aztecs. A related plant was likely a staple food for Native American groups in the southwest.

People eat chia in a bunch of different ways, from breakfast to dessert. Chia seeds have a mild, slightly nutty flavor. You can sprinkle chia seeds whole or ground on any dish, such as oatmeal, pudding, rice, and veggies. Or you can soak seeds in water or fruit juice for a filling, jelly-like dish to eat plain or add to other dishes. You can also sprout the seeds and eat the tender greens.

What are the health benefits of chia seeds?

Let us count the ways this little seed powers up a plant-based diet! 

Health benefits of chia seeds include...

  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • fiber (10 grams per ounce, or 2 tablespoons!)
  • protein (4 grams per ounce!)
  • minerals including zinc, magnesium, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, and iron
  • vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2.

Some new research suggests that eating chia seeds might also help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides.

Chia seeds are typically grown organically (see ya, pesticides!). They are non-GMO and naturally gluten-free

(Not sure you’re ready to dive into chia seeds on your own The MamaSezz Get Me Started Bundle is chock-full of chia-powered and plant-based meals!  Order here.)

7 easy recipes with chia seeds

Ready to grow some plant-based eating goodness with chia seeds? Here are a few of our favorite recipes with chia.

Chia seed breakfast recipes

Chia seed dressing recipe

Chia seed dessert recipes

And remember, you can sprinkle ground or whole chia on salads, soups, cereals, veggies… anything you wish.

(Ready to chia-boost your vegan diet? The Get Me Started Bundle delivers the ready-to-heat, plant-based goods. And you don’t have to do the work! Order here.)

Chef’s tip: use chia seed as an egg replacer (here's how)

Eliminating eggs, without a substitute, is not usually an option while baking. Eggs keep baked goods from falling apart and then help make them fluffy. No eggs? Expect crumbly, dry results. 

Instead, for each egg, mix 1 TBS of ground chia seed with 2½ TBS of warm water. Let the mixture sit for 8 minutes. Once it has reached the consistency of an egg, add to your recipe.

Head over here for more egg-free baking tips.

Where to find chia seeds

Once upon a time, you could find chia seeds only as a pet! But those days are long past.

These days, health food stores carry chia, and most grocery store chains do too. You can check in the health food section, as well as the baking aisle.

Other likely spots are the gluten-free aisle and the spice aisle. Stores like Whole Foods often have bulk sections with chia. If you’re in a bind, you can also find chia seeds easily online.

Wish you had a personal chef to make healthy plant-based meals?

Ta-da! MamaSezz is here to deliver plant-based, fresh-made meals to you every week. And guess what’s in our customer favorites, like the Breakfast Smoothie and the Chia Chai Yoga-Nola Granola? (The name gave it away, huh?)

Our Chef’s Choice Bundle is an excellent way to pump up the chia in your meals AND eat delicious dishes, every day, made for you. Come and get it!  

Key takeaways

  • Chia seeds are small black seeds from the Salvia hispanica plant, originating in Central America.
  • Chia seeds are nutritional powerhouses. They have a mild, slightly nutty flavor. 
  • Chia can be eaten very easily in many ways, from sprinkles to pudding.
  • You can find chia at health food stores, many traditional grocery stores, and online.
  • Don’t eat your chia pet!

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By Becky Karush

Becky Karush is a writer, copywriter, and family woman. She came up through newspapers and magazines, including Disney FamilyFun and Martha Stewart Whole Living, with road trips to teaching and farming. She’s run BeckyK Creative Marketing since 2012. She hosts and produces READ TO ME, a literary podcast that ends the cult of the critic and surfaces the power and beauty in great writing.

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