The hype around chia seeds might have died down recently. But they are still super popular with a lot of health and fitness fanatics.
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Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, fat, and protein. But they take a little effort to prepare.
Chia seeds can be eaten as they are, but only in small quantities. It’s not recommended to eat more than 15g of chia seeds a day.
But, chia seeds are most commonly eaten as a pudding. This is much nicer than eating them as dry seeds. Chia pudding can be flavored with a range of different things. And it only needs soaking in water to make it.
So, to make sure you make the best chia pudding, here’s our guide to soaking chia seeds.
Soaking Chia Seeds in Water
Soaking chia seeds in water is one of the most common methods. It is also the cheapest and easiest option.
To make four portions of pudding, pour four tablespoons of chia seeds into a jar or dish. (Check out the Top Tips section for why jars are the best receptacle for this). Then pour in ½ cup of water.
Leave the chia seeds to soak. After around 2 minutes, the seeds should have absorbed some of the water and grown in size. They will appear as though they have grown a gel around them. The seeds will be encased in a thin transparent layer that is slimy to the touch.
But, it isn’t quite done yet. To get the best texture, leave the seeds in the refrigerator for 2 hours. You can even leave them overnight. This is one of the best options as you can then have them for breakfast in the morning.
Soaking chia seeds in water is the easiest option. But it isn’t the most flavorful. Despite water being incredibly good for you, it also isn’t the most nutritious option. But, it is definitely still a healthy option.
The kind of water you add to chia seeds doesn’t really matter. If you drink water from a filter rather than straight from the faucet anyway, then you should use filtered water in the chia pudding. But, if you’re fine drinking it straight from the faucet, then this water will be fine for your chia pudding too.
It’s best to use cold water instead of hot or warm water. This will be safer if you are using a glass jar. Plus, chia seeds don’t need to be soaked in hot water. Only cold. So, heating up the water will just be an unnecessary use of time and energy.
Soaking Chia Seeds in Milk
If you want to take your chia pudding to the next level, replacing the water with milk is a great option. You can use dairy milk if you want. But, this isn’t the most nutritious option. (It also isn’t great for the environment).
To make chia pudding with milk, simply follow the same steps as above. But replace the water with milk. This will make a much creamier and more nutritious chia pudding. It will also be much more flavorful than chia pudding made with water.
Chia pudding made with water is fine and does the job if you run out of milk. But making chia pudding with milk is definitely a better option. It will also go better with whatever toppings or flavors you decide to add.
One of the best alternatives is almond milk. Almond milk has previously been used by vegans to replace dairy milk. But it has more recently been used by those in the health and fitness community. Almond milk is much more nutritious than dairy milk.
Compared to dairy milk, almond milk has way fewer calories than almond milk. In 8oz of almond milk, there are only 40 calories. This is in comparison to 150 calories in whole milk, 110 calories in 1% milk, and 80 calories in skim milk.
But, we all know that calories are only a surface level indicator when it comes to nutrition. Looking deeper, 8oz of almond milk has 1g of carbohydrates compared to 12g in any kind of cow’s milk.
Almond milk has 3g of fat compared to 8g in whole milk and 2g in 1% milk. But, almond milk does only have 2g of protein compared to 8g in all other kinds of cow’s milk.
Fat, carbohydrates, and protein are all important for a healthy diet. But almond milk is definitely still a healthier option. This is partly because the types of fat, carbohydrates, and protein it contains are all much healthier than those in cow’s milk.
Plus, almond milk just tastes better than cow’s milk! Who wouldn’t want the flavor of almonds in the morning, rather than the taste of milk?
That said, almond farming requires a lot of water, so it isn’t great for the environment. So, always make sure to buy from local and sustainable farmers.
Other non-dairy milks that work well with chia seeds are hazelnut, soy, and oat. But any milk will be delicious!
Soaking Chia Seeds in Fruit Juice
If you aren’t a big fan of creamy textures and want something more flavorful than water in your chia pudding, then fruit juice is a great alternative.
Fruit juice from concentrate is an okay option. But just remember that this won’t hold as many nutrients as fresh juice. The best option is to squeeze the juice yourself. Freshly squeezed orange juice or freshly pulped mango juice are definitely the most delicious.
But, not everyone has the time or means to do this. So buying fresh juice is just as good. You can even add a small amount of smoothie to your chia pudding. Some people like to add chia seeds to their smoothies. This makes a sort of thin and drinkable chia pudding.
But, if you still want the thick consistency of chia pudding, stirring in some smoothie is a great way to add extra flavor and nutrition.
Adding Flavor to Chia Seeds
If almond milk still isn’t giving your chia pudding enough flavor, you have plenty of options. One of the most common flavors is, of course, chocolate.
Once you have added the milk to the chia seeds, stir in a tablespoon or so of cocoa powder.
The exact amount of cocoa powder you need depends on your own personal preference. So you can add as much as you like.
Just remember that the more you add, the thicker the pudding will be. Cocoa powder has a very strong and often bitter taste. So you can add some maple syrup to balance this out.
If you want to make chocolate chia pudding but want it to be even healthier, you can use cacao powder.
Another popular option is vanilla. This will go with even more toppings. You can easily sprinkle in a few drops of vanilla essence.
But this won’t provide you with the best flavor. Freshly scraped vanilla beans or vanilla paste will provide a stronger and fresher flavor.
If you just want to increase the flavor of the almond milk, you can flavor your chia pudding with almonds.
Try to find some very finely ground almonds. If they aren’t ground finely enough, they will add a gritty texture to your chia pudding.
Adding Fruit to Chia Seeds
If you’re having chia seeds for breakfast, one small scoop of chia pudding isn’t going to be enough.
Adding toppings will fill you up more, add more flavor, and increase the nutritional benefits of the pudding.
Fruit is one of the most popular toppings when it comes to chia pudding. You can use any fruit that you like. But the best options are juicy fruits such as mangos, strawberries, and raspberries.
Place the toppings on top of the chia seeds and then leave them overnight. This will cause the juice from the fruit to trickle down through the chia seeds.
As the seeds grow, they will absorb some of the juice as well. This will give your chia pudding an even fresher flavor.
If you enjoy the taste of the chia seeds and don’t want them to absorb the juice, place the fruit at the base of the jar and then place the chia pudding on top. Or, you can add the fruit to your pudding just before you eat it.
Chocolate is of course a popular option for this as well. Adding dark chocolate buttons or cacao nibs to the top of the pudding is a great idea. It will provide a touch of bitterness and flavor to the otherwise muted chia pudding. (Chia seeds don’t have much flavor themselves).
You can even add some chocolate chips. Don’t avoid these just because you think they’re “unhealthy”. There’s no such thing as a bad food.
A sprinkling of chocolate chips isn’t going to make much of a dent in your daily calorie intake. Nor will it cancel out the nutritional benefits of the other ingredients. So, why not use this as an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast? (Or you can add dark chocolate chips for extra nutrients.)
If you can’t find fine enough almonds to add to the pudding itself, you can sprinkle flaked almonds on top instead. This will amplify the almond taste of the milk. (If you choose to use almond milk instead of dairy milk).
Flaked almonds will also add a different texture to the pudding. Chia pudding can be quite strange and difficult to eat by itself.
Especially if you’re not used to the texture. Adding flaked almonds (or whole almonds if you prefer) will add some crunch and make it easier to eat.
Of course, you don’t have to stick to just one flavor. You can play around with them. One of the nicest options is mixing cherry with almond. This will give you a bakewell tart flavor.
Another delicious option is chocolate orange. This will be delicious and decadent. But still healthy and full of nutrients! It’s a win-win.
Nutritional Benefits of Eating Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are beloved within health and fitness circles. And they are often touted as a “superfood”. But so are a lot of other foods. So, what exactly are the benefits of chia seeds? And should you add them to your daily diet?
Let’s break it down. Here is a quick list of the nutritional makeup of 25g of chia seeds:
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
As you can see from the table above, chia seeds are packed full of healthy things. Although, you probably already knew that as every wellness and fitness person seems to be obsessed with these tiny gems.
But, their benefits don’t just lie in how nutritious they are. There are also many claims that chia seeds can have a huge impact on your overall health.
Here are just some of the ways that chia seeds can apparently improve your health. (But, just remember, no food is magic. Whatever the health benefits of chia seeds, they should be included as part of a healthy and balanced diet.)
This is one of the most commonly touted benefits. Chia seeds are said to be great for your heart. And so, great for your blood pressure. This is primarily due to their poly-unsaturated fat content and high amounts of fiber.
Chia seeds are a great source of healthy fats. They also have anti-inflammatory properties. Eating chia seeds has been shown to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. So, if you want a healthy heart, chia seeds are a great addition to your diet.
Chia seeds are also rich in minerals. As you can see above, they have high amounts of calcium and magnesium.
These are minerals that are great for your bones. In comparison, 25ml of milk only contains 32mg of calcium.
As already mentioned in this article, chia seeds are easy to digest when soaked. But they can also help your digestive system itself.
Chia seeds don’t have a huge amount of fiber. But they have a good amount that will help to work toward your total daily fiber intake.
Studies have shown that eating chia seeds can help to control blood sugar levels. This is the seeds themselves but also when used in flour form to make bread.
Potential Drawbacks of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are great for your overall health. But, just to make sure you only get the health benefits, here are a few things to keep in mind when adding chia seeds to your diet.
- Don’t eat more than 15g per day.
As with many other foods, too much can have a negative impact on your body and health. But this is a little more important when it comes to chia seeds. Most packets of chia seeds will advise you not to eat more than 15g per day. This is because eating too many chia seeds can cause digestive problems. This is due to their high fiber content.
- Remember that whole chia seeds will absorb water.
Whole dry chia seeds absorb water very quickly. This means that they will begin to absorb the saliva in your mouth as you chew them. This also means that they will continue to absorb more liquid as they move through your body.
- One food won’t work magic.
Chia seeds are super healthy and will definitely be a beneficial addition to your diet. But it’s important to remember that no food will work magic. Every year there seems to be one food that is touted as a “superfood”.
Whether these are a food that no one seems to have heard of or something that is already a huge part of most people’s diets (hello blueberries). But, while chia seeds are definitely a healthy food, they won’t be able to completely change your health.
Chia seeds are often touted as a food that will help you to lose weight. But this is only because they have a low calorie content. You can lose weight by just eating candy all day if you are still in a calorie deficit.
So, you should definitely start eating chia seeds as a way of increasing your intake of healthy nutrients. But you should also be eating them in combination with lots of other healthy foods.
Storing Soaked Chia Seeds
Before they have been soaked, chia seeds can last in a dry environment for anywhere between 2 and 4 years. This will depend on whether the packet has been opened.
But, once they have been soaked, chia pudding can only last for around 4 days. This makes it great for meal prepping. You can make a handful of chia puddings in separate jars or containers.
Then eat them as a healthy breakfast throughout the week. This will be quick, easy, nutritious, and delicious. (Plus on the fifth day you can get yourself a little treat for breakfast instead).
As dry whole chia seeds absorb water very easily, it’s really important to keep them in a dry space. If they are anywhere that is even slightly damp, they can begin to absorb the water. (And you definitely don’t want to eat a chia pudding made from damp).
Other Ways to Use Soaked Chia Seeds
Soaked chia seeds can also be used in other recipes. Because of their texture, they are great for binding foods together.
So don’t worry if you have some chia pudding in your refrigerator that you don’t think you will eat before it goes bad. Here are just a few other uses for chia pudding:
- Vegan egg replacement. Because of their gooey consistency, soaked chia seeds make a great replacement for eggs. Especially if the recipe only calls for egg whites. (But only in some cases, we don’t recommend attempting a chia seed omelette or meringue).
- Add chia seeds to your smoothies. As mentioned above, some people like adding chia seeds to their smoothies. The chia seeds will begin to absorb the liquid in the smoothies. But not enough to make it thick like a chia pudding. This means that the chia seeds will be easy to drink. But won’t be gritty and bitty.
- Add chia seeds (whole or soaked) to waffles and pancakes. Soaked chia seeds can be used as a replacement for eggs in waffles and pancakes. Or whole chia seeds can be added just for some extra nutrients. The seeds will likely soak up some of the milk used in the waffles or pancakes. But there will still be some level of crunchiness when using whole chia seeds.
Other Ways to Use Chia Seeds
Soaking chia seeds is one of the most common ways to eat chia seeds. But there are lots of other ways to use chia seeds, even when dried.
Chia seeds can be milled to make a flour. This flour can then be used to make bread or can replace other uses of all-purpose flour.
Chia seed flour can also be used in place of cornflour to thicken soups. Chia flour is also gluten-free. So this is a great gluten-free alternative to all-purpose flour that is still full of nutrients.
Other uses of chia flour can include making pizzas, pie crusts, and pretty much any other food that uses all-purpose flour!
Chia Seed Crust
Another way chia seeds can be used is to replace breadcrumbs. This is another great way to replace gluten-heavy bread. Chia seeds stick to wet food easily. So lots of foods can be easily rolled in them to add a crunchy crust.
If a crust made from whole chia seeds doesn’t sound particularly appetizing for you, you can also use a coarsely milled chia seed flour.
Can you eat chia seeds without soaking them?
You absolutely can. If you don’t enjoy the texture of chia pudding, or just don’t have the time, you can sprinkle chia seeds on other foods.
We wouldn’t recommend eating them as you would other seeds, such a sunflower or pumpkin seeds. But they still have nutritional benefits if you eat them without soaking.
How are chia seeds grown?
Chia seeds are the seed of, unsurprisingly, the chia plant. Also known as Salvia hispanica, the chia plant is a member of the mint family. Chia plants are also often known as simply “chia”.
Chia is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. They are similar in appearance to cress. But when in bloom have a purple flower similar in shape to foxgloves or lavender.
Despite the huge popularity of their seeds today, chia first became popular in the US for the plant itself. In the 1980s, it became popular to plant chia into clay pots shaped like animals. The chia would then grow out of the pot and make a “chia pet”.
Do you have to soak chia seeds to get the benefits?
Not necessarily. As mentioned above, you can eat chia seeds as they are and still receive the nutritional benefits.
But, the coating they gain when soaked helps them to move more easily through your digestive system.
Do you soak chia seeds in hot or cold water?
Cold water is the best option for soaking chia seeds. Unlike a lot of other foods, heat isn’t needed to break down and soften chia seeds.
They can easily absorb the water when it is cold. If you don’t like the idea of cold chia pudding, check out the top tips section below for tips on making warm chia pudding.
Now you know the best way to soak chia seeds. Here are a few top tips for making them the best they can be.
- Make chia pudding in a jar.
This isn’t just an aesthetic. Making chia pudding in a mason jar is actually one of the best ways. Chia pudding might have an almost jell-o-like consistency. But it doesn’t hold its shape in the same way. So, making it in a jar will keep the pudding all together and make sure that all the seeds are well-soaked.
If you are making single-serving chia puddings, then making them in small jars will also keep them fresh. Making the portions in jars will also allow you to make chia pudding with different flavors and toppings. This is great for an easy breakfast as you can make it the night before. Or you can make separate portions in one go if you like meal prepping.
- Sprinkle chia seeds on salads and cereal.
Chia seeds themselves don’t have much flavor. But even when they aren’t soaked, they hold a lot of health benefits. This means that, if you don’t have time to make chia pudding, you can still easily eat chia seeds. You can sprinkle them on your morning cereal, on a salad, or even on a soup. They will add some extra texture and nutrients to your dish. Without interfering with the flavor.
- Make warm chia pudding.
If you don’t like the idea of eating cold pudding straight from the refrigerator every morning, you can make warm chia pudding instead. This can be flavored in the same way as you would warm oatmeal.
Although we wouldn’t recommend adding dried spices such as cinnamon and ginger. This will add a gritty texture. Chia pudding won’t absorb the grounds in the same way as oatmeal does. But, grating on some fresh ginger is a great way to add extra flavor and nutrients.
You can even add stewed or fresh apples and pears. This will make the perfect healthy fall breakfast.
Soaking chia seeds is super easy. There is a general ratio of chia seeds to water or milk. But you don’t have to stick very accurately to this.
Even if you add in more liquid than you intend to, the seeds will usually just take on more of it and the pudding will be bigger and thinner. (There is a limit to this, of course).
So, if you’re wondering whether soaking chia seeds is worth it then the answer is absolutely, yes. It’s a super simple way to make a healthy and delicious breakfast or dessert.