Using Chia as a Substitute Ingredient

By Barrie Rogers, Debbie Dooly

You can take out ingredients in your favorite recipes and replace them with chia. This can greatly improve the recipe’s nutrient value — because typically you’re taking out not-so-healthy foods and replacing them with the super-nutritious chia.

For example, common recipes that are traditionally baked using butter and eggs can be made healthier by reducing the amount of butter and eggs and using chia gel instead. Thanks to its gelling capabilities, chia can be used in the baking process as a binding agent instead of eggs or as a fat replacement.

Using chia instead of eggs

If you want to cut down on eggs, you have an egg allergy, or you’re following a vegan diet, you can use chia seeds instead of eggs in most recipes.

You need milled chia seeds, so either buy them milled from a shop or grind the seeds yourself using a coffee grinder. Then just mix 1 tablespoon milled chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water to replace one egg. Do this for each egg that the recipe calls for.

Eggs are used so often in baking for a few reasons:

  • To bind the ingredients and make them all stick together.

  • To add moisture to the baked goods and help to keep them from drying out.

  • To help the baked goods rise. When you beat the eggs, air is added, and in the baking process the air heats and expands, making the baked item rise.

Chia acts as an egg on all three fronts, thanks to its gelling capabilities and oil content.

Using chia instead of butter

Most of the fats called for in recipes (for example, butter) are high in saturated fat, which can be bad for your heart. You can use chia in place of some of the butter in many baking recipes.

Chia has a fat content of 30 percent, but it’s the kind of fat that’s good for your heart.

To replace butter in a recipe, simply make a chia gel. Use chia gel instead of half the butter that a recipe needs. So, for instance, if a recipe calls for 1 cup butter, use 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup chia gel. It won’t affect the taste of the recipe, but it will greatly improve the nutrient value and reduce the amount of saturated fat.

A good rule of thumb for creating a gel is six parts water to one part seeds. Simply pour the water into a bowl, mix well, and let it sit for a few minutes. Then mix again and let it stand for ten minutes, mix again, and use as necessary.

With chia, you can have your cake and eat it, too!