Chia seeds contain more omega-3s than any other plant food (although as alpha-linolenic acid, which the body must convert to more usable forms). Chia also boasts more calcium than milk; abundant vitamin C, fiber, and iron; and potentially blood pressure–lowering effects. The seeds have little taste but add wonderful texture, and they stay fresh without refrigeration for up to two years. The white variety, marketed as Salba, offers even more protein and good fats.

  1. Breakfast.
    Unlike flaxseed, you don’t have to grind chia for your body to digest it. Mix into your morning juice to create a thickened “chia fresca,” or stir into pancake or waffle batter for an appealing crunch.
     
  2. Baking.
    Because of sensitivities to guar or xanthan gum, some gluten-free bakers turn to chia as a binding element. To replace gum, use the same amount of chia mixed with twice that quantity of boiling water.
     
  3. Egg stand-in.
    Its water-absorbent qualities make chia an excellent egg replacement, too. Whisk 1 tablespoon chia with 3 tablespoons hot water and let sit for 10 minutes until it becomes thick and gooey; use in place of one egg.
     
  4. Better than bread crumbs.
    Sprinkle chia seeds over casseroles or mix them into any kind of breading for fish, chicken, or tofu.