Food of the Week: Chia Seeds

I first tried chia seeds in a simple drink (a spoonful of seeds added to a glass of water) a few years ago on a hike with my brother. I had read that chia increased the running endurance of a certain Indian tribe in Mexico, and thought we might notice similar effects on a hike. I don’t recall any perceptible endurance boost taking place, but then again I didn’t have a control hike to compare it to. I did enjoy the gel-like consistency of the drink, though. (My brother, not so much.)

Chia seeds, in addition to gracing society with the famous “Ch-ch-ch-chia!” jingle, contain a host of nutrients. One ounce of chia seeds contains about 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat (including beneficial omega-3 fatty acids), and 11 grams of fiber. It also has respectable amounts of the minerals calcium, phosphorus, and manganese.

I have fewer recipes in this column than usual, with no savory items to balance out the sweet. If chia becomes a more popular food over the next few years, people will certainly come up with more ways to cook with it. I’m sure there are also some great chia recipes already out there that I just haven’t encountered.

Oats in a Jar

A friend passed this on from the Des Moines Register; I’ve modified it slightly. I’m pretty attached to hot oatmeal in the morning, but this is a variation I will definitely be working in.

1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt
1/3 c. steel-cut oats
1/2 c. milk
2 t. chia seeds
1 t. honey
Dash vanilla extract
1/3 c. frozen berries
Cinnamon to taste

Combine yogurt, oats, milk, chia, honey, and vanilla. Layer yogurt mixture with frozen fruit in a pint canning jar or glass. Cover with lid. Refrigerate overnight or up to two days. Enjoy chilled, with cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Chia Granola

From my friend Jodie. This makes a large batch, so you might find halving the recipe appropriate. Some dried fruit suggestions are raisins, cranberries, chopped apricots, and chopped figs.

1 c. canola oil
1 ½ c. honey
5 c. rolled oats
2 c. slivered almonds or blend of nuts
1 c. sesame seeds
1 c. wheat germ or almond flour
2 c. unsweetened coconut
1 c. sunflower seeds
1 c. chia seeds
Dried fruit

Preheat oven to 325°. Cook the canola oil and honey in a small pan over medium heat until blended. Stir together the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix the oil and honey into the oat mixture. Spread evenly on two baking sheets and bake 30-40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until browned. Stir in the dried fruit, let cool, and stir to break apart.

Vegan Lemon
Scones with Chia

Similar to lemon poppy seed scones or muffins. Modified from

1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. oat flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
1 T. chia seeds
¼ c. white sugar
3 T. coconut oil
1/3 c. soy milk
2 T. lemon juice
1-2 T. lemon zest
¾-1 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ T. lemon juice
½–1 T. lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chia seeds, and white sugar in a bowl. Mix in coconut oil until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in soy milk, 2 T. lemon juice, and 2 T. lemon zest until a dough forms.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until workable, about 8 times. Gently roll dough into a ball and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Press into a circle or rectangle about 1 inch thick; cut into 10 wedges or 8 squares. Bake until edges are lightly golden brown, 18-20 minutes.

Mix confectioners’ sugar, 1 ½ T. lemon juice, and 1 T. lemon zest in a small bowl. Drizzle or spread frosting on top of scones once cooled.

Notes: Substitutions include wheat flour for the oat flour, vegetable oil for the coconut oil, and cow’s milk for the soy milk. I only had two lemons when I made this, which produced about one-third of the suggested amount of zest, which was 2 T. for the dough and 1 T. for the glaze. They still tasted lemony, so using 1 T. for the dough and ½ T. for the glaze should be fine.

Chocolate Chia
Seed Pudding

This is extremely high in fiber, so you might want to make a half recipe or eat it over a few days. Two of my co-workers said it looks like Polyjuice Potion from the Harry Potter movies, whatever that means… Also from

2 T. cocoa powder
2 T. brown sugar
1 t. hazelnut flavored instant coffee powder (opt.)
¼ c. chia seeds
1 c. milk
2 t. honey, or to taste

Mix cocoa powder, brown sugar, and instant coffee powder together in a bowl; stir until no lumps remain. Fold chia seeds into the mixture. Pour milk into the bowl and stir to incorporate. Let the mixture sit a few minutes before stirring again. Repeat resting and stirring a few times over the course of 20 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours to overnight. Drizzle honey over the pudding to serve.