How to Use Chia Seeds and Flour in Gluten-Free Recipes

Chia Seeds - A Staple Food of Ancient Cultures:

The Aztecs, Mayans and Native Americans valued chia seeds as a source of concentrated energy and nutrition. This tiny superseed has survived the ages- and the Chia Pet™ craze (!), to become a valuable ingredient for gluten free cooks.

More Omega 3 Fatty Acids Than Flaxseed:

You may have heard about the importance of adding omega 3 fatty acids to your diet.

Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats, important to health because they are known to reduce inflammation and risks for cardiovascular disease.

A 1-ounce serving of chia (salvia hispanica L) contains approximately 4.9 grams of omega 3 fatty acids. Comparatively, flaxseed, another good plant source of omega 3 fatty acids, supplies about 1.8 grams of omega 3 fatty acids in a 1-ounce serving.

Source: USDA Standard Reference 20; Tufts University - School of Medicine

More Fiber Ounce-for-Ounce than Beans:

Soluble fiber has been credited with maintaining normal, healthy cholesterol levels and supporting healthy elimination. A 1-ounce serving of chia seeds contain 10.6 grams of fiber. Compare that to oatmeal, another good source of soluble fiber. A 3/4 cup of gluten free oatmeal supplies about 2.8 grams of soluble fiber. Compare chia seeds to flaxseeds, which supply about 7.6 grams of fiber in a 1-ounce serving.

Obviously, if you are working to increase the amount of soluble fiber in your diet, chia seeds deliver.

Source: USDA Standard Reference 20

Rich Source of Plant-based Calcium:

We automatically think dairy foods when we think about adding calcium to our diets. But the plant world is full of foods that are rich sources of calcium.

Broccoli is a great source of easily absorbable calcium and it turns out, so are chia seeds. A 1-ounce serving of chia seeds supplies 177 mg of calcium. Just one 5-inch stalk of steamed broccoli contains 56 mg of calcium.
Source: USDA Standard Reference 20

More Protein Ounce-for-Ounce Than Beans:

Are you a vegetarian? If so, you may be looking for good plant sources of protein. A 1-ounce serving of chia seeds contain 4.4 grams of protein. Compare that to a 1-ounce serving of kidney beans which supply .01 grams of protein. As you can see, ounce per ounce chia seeds are a concentrated source of nutrition.

How to Use Chia Seeds and Chia Flour in Gluten-Free Cooking:

  • Use chia seeds to replace eggs in recipes. When mixed with water, chia seeds, high in soluble fiber, form a thick gel. Place 1 tablespoon of chia seeds in a cup and add 3 tablespoons of water. Allow the mixture to sit for about 15 minutes. 1/4 cup of hydrated chia seeds equals approximately 1 egg.
  • Sprinkle chia seeds on cereals and yogurt.
  • Use chia seed flour in a wide variety of gluten-free recipes as a 1-to-1 replacement for wheat flours. According to Nuchia Foods, the manufacturer of Chia Seed Flour (a blend of milled chia seeds and organic brown rice flour), their product performs as a 1:1 replacement for wheat flour.
    Read product review of Nuchia Original Chia Seed Flour
  • Baking tips for using chia flour in gluten-free baking:
    Sift chia seed flour before using, use smaller pans when baking with chia seed flour and increase baking time by about 5%. For example, if a recipe calls for a 60-minute baking time, increase time by about 3 minutes for better results.

When learning to use a new gluten-free ingredient like chia seed flour, experiment! Take note of baking time, size of pans, and types of recipes used.