The tiny and humble chia seed, despite being truly old-school (it was an important part of the Aztecs’ diet), has started to hit the culinary big-time in the last few years, transitioning from novelty plant beard producer to bona fide superfood. And signs point to it trending harder than ever before in 2014.
This renaissance is thanks to people catching on to chia’s many nutritional perks (it’s packed with fiber, fatty acids, protein, and minerals) and unique physical properties: It looks like a poppy seed but acts more like tapioca, swelling up and turning gelatinous when you soak it. That sounds weird, but is great for making no-cook pudding, jelling low-sugar jams, replacing eggs, and more tricks that come in especially handy in raw and vegan cooking.
If you want to know more about the nitty-gritty of chia seeds, check out this handy guide on Nutrition Stripped. But above all, know this: no other plant in history has done so much to vastly increase the amount of pudding recipes on the internet. And for that, we should all be grateful.
Here are some excellent ideas for how to start incorporating chia power in into your own eating routine.