If you are looking to maximize the protective and healing power of your diet, you can’t do better than to add chia to your recipes.

Gram for gram, chia seeds have 70 percent more protein than soybeans, 25 percent more fiber than flaxseed, 600 percent more calcium than milk, 200 percent more potassium than a banana, and 30 percent more antioxidants than blueberries. Two tablespoons of chia also contain 5.1 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart health, lower cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce inflammation.

Chia can transform the texture and look of foods. Stirred into a dish, they impart a satisfying crunch. But when you soak chia in liquid before combining it with other ingredients, you create a gel that adds moisture, thickness and a velvety mouth-feel to a dish.

When you’re adding chia gel to a recipe, start with a tablespoon, give it a taste, then add more as needed. When adding chia gel to something like a soup or smoothie, start by adding a half cup then test out the thickness and texture.

Use chia to reduce calories in condiments

Mixing condiments with chia gel reduces their fat and calories while boosting their nutritional profile. Use a thick chia gel (3 tablespoons of chia to 1 cup of purified, room-temperature water) to cut ketchup, mayonnaise and pre-made salad dressings. A ratio of one-third gel to two-thirds condiment is a good rule of thumb.

Use chia as a flour substitute

Milled chia can be substituted for flour to thicken soups, used as coating for breaded fish or chicken, or used as a flour replacement in baking. You can replace up to one-quarter of the flour in a recipe with milled chia. To make it, grind whole chia seeds in a spice mill, clean coffee grinder, blender or food processor.

Use chia as an egg substitute

Chia gel can be as thick and smooth as an egg. To replace one large egg, combine 1 tablespoon chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of room-temperature water. Whisk and let sit until a gel forms, about 20 minutes. Chia adds liquid to a recipe, so you may want to add a few minutes to your baking time.

The combination of chia with fresh organic produce, whole grains and healthy sources of protein will lead you down the path to vitality, giving you the energy and strength to lead a more beautiful and dynamic life.