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The REAL Chia plant (not its imposter
Salvia carduacea)

I love a good lemon poppy seed cake. Not all the time and not all lemon poppy seed cakes, but when I find a good one– I’ll certainly dig in. So when I was trying to think up a recipe for Bob’s Red Mill’s Chia Seeds (which remind me of poppy seeds when they’re in food, at least in looks, if not flavor) my favorite poppy seed dish sprung to mind. To make the challenge all the more difficult, I have been abstaining from gluten recently (and seeing great results energetically and in terms of digestion) so I needed to come up with a recipe that would be gluten-free, delicious and taste similar to a lemon poppy seed cake but with the added health benefits of Chia seeds.

I once had a Chia Homer but his hair never sprouted — the seeds just dried to his head

Eating Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Seeds

Though you may think Chia seeds are nothing more than something that belongs in a faddish gag gift, eating Chia seed has recently become all the rage. That’s because Chia seed are considered a super-food, they’re the highest plant-based source of Omega 3 fatty acids (great for combating free radicals), high in fiber (great for a healthy colon and digestion), they’re naturally gluten-free and can be used in the same manner flax seeds are. But unlike flax seeds, Chias do not have to be ground in order for their nutrients to be made available to the body.

They’re also chock full of nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc and these antioxidants don’t deteriorate as quickly as flax — which means they can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid.

Chia seeds make a gel when set in water for 30 minutes, this is what researchers believe affects the digestive process in the human body, slowing down the rate at which enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar — making them a useful food source for helping diabetics and pre-diabetics maintain a more even blood sugar level.

A yummy breakfast: Breakfast sundae (greek yogurt, coconut butter, honey, and chia seeds) with a tamari and seaweed rice cake and decaf green tea

Just what is a Chia Seed Anyway?

It is the seed of a blooming plant, belonging to the mint family. It’s scientific name is Salvia hispanica. It is considered an herb and it can grow over 3 feet tall, producing gorgeous purple or white flowers. Native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala, the Chia seed was revered by the Aztecs and Mayans in pre-Columbian days.

Chia Seeds:  A Rich History

A staple food of the ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures,  Chia seeds were included in annual tributes and as offerings as rituals to the Aztec gods, priesthood and nobility. This meant Chia seeds were a major crop in central Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C.  but they were banned in the 16th Century, after the Spanish conquest, because of their importance in Aztec religion.

This pic is of the wheat version featured on Danica’s Daily because my camera broke before I was able to retrieve the pics of my teacakes

Gluten-Free Lemon Chia Seed Teacakes

These are sweeter than your average muffin but denser than your average cupcake and so moist, you have to wait for them to cool a bit before attempting to remove them from the pan, or else they will fall apart. When I do remove them from the pan, I do so by running a butter knife around the edge of all the cupcake cups (no wrappers for these) and then inverting the pan. All the teacakes (if cool enough) should slip easily from the greased (not floured) cupcake tin, landing squarely on their heads. Which is right where I leave them for glazing. I like the look of these upside down little round-edged pyramids. If you can do gluten, there’s a great recipe for Meyer Lemon Chia Seed Muffins over on Danica’s Daily.

I used True lemon in this recipe because it was such a wet batter to begin with that I didn’t want to add any more moisture, but normally I would use fresh Meyer lemon. I find True Lemon and True Citrus products are great in frostings, glazes and marinades (for ease and intensity of flavor) — though, I prefer the fresh fruit in most everything else.

Teacake Batter

  • 2/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quinoa (cooked)
  • 1/3 cup soymilk (you can use dairy or sub other milks if you like)
  • 4 large organic brown eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond or Hazelnut flour
  • 3 Tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Coconut flour
  • 2 Tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Chia Seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp True Lemon natural crystallized lemon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Fluff cooked quinoa with a fork and allow it to cool. (Do not rush this.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of the cups of two 1 dozen non-stick cupcake pans (no flour) or use cupcake wrappers.

Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups of cooled, cooked quinoa and blend until smooth. Add the oil and melted butter and blend to incorporate.

In the meantime, mix together the sugar, almond flour, coconut flour, True Lemon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in your mixer bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well, folding in your Chia seeds. Scoop the batter with an ice cream scoop into the cupcake pans and bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until the cake bounces back when lightly pressed.

Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan before serving. Glaze if desired (these are delicious without the glaze as well.)

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

Makes 24 teacakes


  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1tsp True Lemon natural crystallized lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter, stir in powdered sugar, vanilla and True Lemon. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and whisking until smooth desired consistency. Drizzle over teacakes while still warm, let glaze set and serve.

Makes 2 dozen teacakes

Thanks to Dr. Margaret Conover, a botanist and Master Gardener with over 30 years experience in creating interactive science learning experiences for people of all ages and the founder of Chia Power, for giving me a heads up to the correct flowering plant of the Chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) to learn much more about Chia seeds visit her site.