5 tips for learning how to use chia and other new foods

By Katie Shatzer

Chia and I did not start off on the right foot. It turned out to be all my fault, but I was able to learn from my mistakes — and develop a long-term relationship with this ancient superfood.

I was first inspired to make my own creation by a decadent photo of pumpkin chia pudding. I set to work making my first chia recipe that combined the seeds and unmeasured amounts (unmeasured is the keyword here) of milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla and cinnamon in a Mason jar. I simply gave the concoction a shake and placed it in the fridge overnight.

What I awoke to the next morning was nothing like the original photo. Instead of a sweet, thick, pudding-like treat, I found a slimy, grayish-orange goop. I braved a few spoonfuls before considering it a loss.

how to use chia

One of the easiest ways to use chia is to simply sprinkle a tablespoon over your favorite dishes. Here, chia adds a bit of crunch to one of my favorite breakfasts: oatmeal topped with fresh berries, dried goji berries and walnuts!

But I didn’t give up on chia completely. I wanted our relationship to work. So I continued my patient experimentation — even taking some breaks from chia — until I fell in love and it became a staple for me. Now, I eat it almost everyday.

If you’re trying to incorporate a new food into your diet, here are five tips that helped me:

1. Do some research. Whether it’s chia or another new ingredient, chances are someone else has some great ideas for how to use it. Look for an overview like this one I turned to for chia.

2. Start small and simple. My second experiment with chia involved sprinkling a pinch over a piece of peanut butter or almond butter toast. I highly recommend this, especially if you’ve never tried chia. For me, it was a simple way to incorporate chia into a food I already enjoyed.

3. Try a tested recipe. Had I simply followed an actual recipe for pumpkin chia pudding, my end result might have been more like pudding than paste. When I followed a recipe for a chia seed breakfast bowl, I learned how delicious a chia pudding can taste! (Seriously, try this recipe and top it with some blueberries, raspberries and chopped walnuts. Best breakfast ever.)

4. Be adventurous. Recipe searching also led me to ideas I never would have dreamed of, like chia seed jam. Using chia for this purpose is great if you don’t want to use gelatin — or if you’re a bit on the lazy side when it comes to making jam! I used blueberries and added a few tablespoons of goji berries that I had soaked in water then pureed, which resulted in a tart yet slightly earthy flavor.

5. Wash your dishes. Because you won’t believe how dried chia seed will stick to them.

Do you love chia? Share your favorite ways to use it in the comments below.

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