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Using Chia Seeds in Smoothies as a Thickener: Tips & Recipes

There are tons of ways you can incorporate chia seeds into your diet. One of the easiest and healthiest ways to eat chia seeds is to consume them together with fruits (and vegetables) in smoothies. And the great thing about using chia seeds in smoothies is that not only will you be boosting the nutritional value of your smoothies, you will also be adding body to your drinks. Why? Because chia seeds work as a natural thickener, giving smoothies a wonderful rich texture. Banana-free smoothies, in particular, can get a real lift from chia seeds as they omit the usual go-to ingredient for thickening up smoothies, so if you are allergic to bananas or simply don't like how they taste, be sure to stock up on chia seeds! If your local grocery store does not sell chia seeds, look for them in the health food stores in your area, or buy chia seeds online.

If you are pressed for time, you can add a spoonful of chia seeds, along with the rest of your favorite smoothie ingredients, directly into the blender. However, if you want to make the most out of the natural thickening properties of chia, you will want to soak the seeds in water (or juice) first. When chia seeds are exposed to moisture, they form a thick gel that's perfect for adding body to smoothies. And, since they can soak up more than ten times their weight, a little will go a long way! And, as a bonus, pre-soaking chia seeds before using them in smoothies will also make them soft so they will blend up easily, even if you don't have one of those high-end, high-powered blenders.

So how much soaked chia, or chia gel, would be enough to thicken an average smoothie?

In The Best Green Smoothies on the Planet, smoothie expert Tracy Russell recommends using one or two tablespoons of whole or freshly ground chia seeds for an average smoothie. If you decide to go for the whole seeds, she recommends you turn them into chia gel by soaking them in water for about ten minutes using a ratio of 1 part seeds to 3 parts water. However, if your haven't used chia seeds before, you may want to start with a smaller amount and see how your body reacts. Some people experience digestive problems such as constipation after eating chia seeds, especially if they don't consume enough fluids.

Banana-Free Smoothie Using Chia Gel as a Thickener

Makes 2 servings—Rich and flavorful, this banana-free vegan smoothie blends together frozen strawberries and mango for a satisfying smoothie that makes a healthy breakfast or a great pick-me-up snack. Aside from being packed with flavor and nutrients, this smoothie is also a cinch to prepare, and all the ingredients are readily available.

Thick Chia Smoothie
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 cups water (approx.)
  • 1 cup diced mango
  • 1 organic apple
  • 1 cup frozen strawberry slices

  • In a glass, combine the chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water, and set aside for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse and dice the remaining ingredients as needed.
  • Add 1 ⅔ cups water to a high-powered blender, followed by the soaked chia seeds, mango and strawberries.
  • Blend until thoroughly combined, turning off the blender and pushing down on the ingredients with a wooden spoon as needed to help the blending process.
  • Check the consistency. If the smoothie seems too thick, add a bit more water, and blend for a few more seconds. Serve immediately.

More Chia Smoothie Recipes

Book You May Like
Janie Hoffman is the founder of Mamma Chia, a leading producer of chia-based foods and beverages. In her much- anticipated book, The Chia Cookbook, Hoffman teaches the reader how to incorporate chia seeds into everything from smoothies and snacks to salads and desserts. To learn more about this mouthwatering collection of recipes, check it out on Amazon.
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