Chia seeds are tiny morsels that pack a big nutritional punch. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber. People eat them in the interest of reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic inflammation. Others eat them to promote a feeling of fullness that curbs their appetite.
Their nutritional profile includes three times the iron in spinach, twice the potassium of bananas and they are a complete protein. It’s not exaggerating to call chia seeds “superfoods”.
Where do Chia Seeds come from?
Chia seeds are edible seeds from the Salvia Hispanic plant which belongs to the mint family. The tiny seeds are either black or white and are native to Mexico and Guatemala.
Long before anyone studied their nutritional properties, ancient Aztec and Mesoamerican cultures incorporated chia seeds into their diets and medicines.
How Do You Eat Chia Seeds?
While chia seeds aren’t that appetizing straight out of the bag, they are a great addition to other foods. I enjoy them in a very simple 3-ingredient pudding that gets its flavor from almond milk and a natural sweetener like honey. I improve jars of overnight oats by adding a tablespoon or two of chia seeds for the extra nutrition. They are also great additions to muffin batter, homemade energy bars, and even breading for chicken breasts.
Vegan chefs often soak chia seeds in water to make an egg replacer in baked goods. They can even be a good replacement for yogurt in smoothies.
Chia seeds can absorb as much as twelve times their weight in liquids. That’s why some people incorporate them into a weight-loss program. They believe that the chia seeds make their stomachs feel fuller longer and that is a path to cutting calories.
When chia seeds get wet they take on a gelatin-like consistency. Not everyone is a fan of the plumped-up texture of chia seeds. Some people with sensitive digestive systems can’t tolerate them. And others are turned off by the high price of chia seeds at the grocery store. So what are some substitutes for chia seeds that offer nutritional value and a great texture?
Substitutes for Chia Seeds
Chia seeds may be famous for growing into clay pot pets, but they are also superfoods that are a healthy addition to recipes. If you are sensitive to chia, dislike the texture of the seeds, are looking for a more budget-friendly option or you just plain ran out, there are substitutes available.
Chia substitutes won’t look or taste exactly the same, but they could turn your old recipe into something brand new that you’ll want to make again and again.
Linseeds, sesame seeds, quinoa, oat bran and psyllium husks are all little bites of nutrition that are a healthy choice to eat by themselves or with other foods instead of chia seeds.
Linseeds (Flax seeds)
Linseeds are a very good substitute for chia seeds. They are similar in protein and fiber content to chia. And they have slightly more Omega-3s.
Linseeds will absorb a lot of liquid and they have a similar gel texture. They are a little larger than chia seeds, so they don’t thicken items like puddings exactly the same way. If you’re choosing linseeds as a substitute for chia seeds, either cut down on the seeds or use less liquid.
Sesame seeds are a good choice for replacing chia seeds while cooking and baking. They can be used in sweet and salty dishes. Their flavor is stronger than chia seeds but they do not take on the characteristics of gel, which is a plus for some people.
Sesame seeds have a nutty taste and are great additions to nut bars, granolas and even salads.
You can turn sesame seeds into a tahini paste that can be used in smoothies, puddings, and hummus.
Quinoa is widely known as a great protein source. It doesn’t have all of the other nutritional benefits of chia seeds, but it is a very healthy seed loaded with amino acids. Quinoa can be mixed into meat or vegetable patties. Some people sprinkle quinoa into salads.
Some cooks mistakenly consider quinoa a grain, but it is actually a seed. If you’re going to substitute quinoa seeds for chia seeds in a recipe, it’s best to fully cook the quinoa first.
Oat Bran is an inexpensive substitute for chia seeds. It is also easily incorporated into savory patties. It is also a good choice for smoothies, energy bars, and desserts. Oat bran is high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants.
Psyllium husks are a fiber-rich substitute for chia seeds. One tablespoon has 5 grams of fiber. Some people say that psyllium husks are filling and make them less hungry between meals. Psyllium husks work well in place of chia seeds in smoothies and oatmeal. They are also excellent when added into baked goods like breads and cakes.
Psyllium also works as a thickener in recipes adding creaminess, along with an extra dollop of nutrition.