For far too long, chia seeds were more famous for their ability to sprout ‘fur’ on sheep-shaped pottery than for their healthful benefits. Luckily, though, the current clean eating movement has turned scores of new people onto this nutrient-rich superfood. What exactly are chia seeds, though?

They come from the Salvia hispanica, a plant that is native to the deserts of Mexico. Rich in carbohydrates and protein, warriors of the Mayan and Aztec civilations would eat them as an energy source while in the midst of battle. The itty bitty black and white seeds are also loaded with 11g fiber, 28g of calcium (that’s more than milk!), and 5g mega-3 fatty acids per 1 ounce serving. Chia’s anti-oxidant content is on par with blueberries.

With all of that power packed into such a small portion, it makes sense to add chia seeds to your diet. Their taste is fairly light, sort of a cross between poppy and sesame seeds. When dry, they add a pleasant crunch to salads, sandwiches, and coconut yogurt. When they get wet, the seeds swell up similarly to tapioca, which is why they are often used in vegan/ gluten-free puddings. In fact, they’re one of the key ingredients in Denise Mari's Soulful Strawberry Chia Pudding, which not only makes a well-rounded breakfast, but is so rich and delicious that it can also be served as dessert. As far as brands go, we like Nutiva, whose chia seeds are certified organic, unrefined, and non-GMO.