How to make healthy choices every day

Chia Rhubarb Apricot Muffins

Hey, does anyone remember chia pets, those weird little clay animal figurines that grew fur made out of plants? I wanted one so badly as a kid, but my parents agreed that they didn’t really go with the décor. These days I have a serious love for chia, but instead of enjoying them as a sprout-covered squirrel on my windowsill, I eat the seeds, taking full advantage of the super food that gave this 1980’s terracotta tchotchke its power.

What are Chia seeds?
Aside from their slightly oblong shape, chia seeds look a lot like poppy seeds, being gray or black in colour, and very, very tiny. Unlike poppy seeds however, the inconspicuous chia is a veritable powerhouse of nutrition and a very versatile food to boot. In pre-Columbian times they were a main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets and were the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors. I’ve read that one tablespoon was believed to sustain an individual for 24 hours. The Aztecs also used chia medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin.
In more recent years, chia has undergone a sort of renaissance with the increasing interest in health foods throughout North America and Western Europe. In Canada, chia seeds are often sold under the brand name “Salba”. Chia and Salba are essentially the same thing, only Salba is a white seed strain of the same plant.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds! And it has another advantage over flax: chia is so rich in antioxidants that the seeds don’t deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid. And, unlike flax, they do not have to be ground to make their nutrients available to the body. Chia seeds also provide complete protein (perfect for vegetarians!) fiber, as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc. See? They are like, a total miracle food!

Bringing it all together
The last awesome aspect of this super seed definitely worth mentioning is its binding qualities. By this I mean that when chia comes into contact with liquids it forms a gel, which not only makes a fabulous egg replacer in baked goods, but also it also acts as a binder in your digestive system, making your poop totally fabulous! I even considered naming the title of this post “Fabulous Bowel Movement Muffins”, but my gut told me not to. Ahem. Sorry.
Why should you care about this? Well, if you have diarrhea, constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, chia gel actually helps to regulate symptoms by coating the digestive tract with a mucilaginous goo that soothes irritations, and improves digestion by bulking up stool in a calm and gentle fashion. After munching a few of these muffins, just tell me if you’re not experiencing some very satisfying trips to the John.

* * *

For this recipe I used rhubarb because it’s about the only seasonal fruit we’ve got going on up here in Denmark. If you live somewhere where there is a wider variety of fresh fruit (basically anywhere but here – sorry I’m totally bitter), by all means use what you’re growing in your backyard or what’s available at your local farmer’s market instead.
And just so you know, these muffins are sugar-free so they are not cupcakes in disguise. Don’t expect some super-sweet, dessert-like bomb to come out of your oven! These are healthy, real, whole-food muffins that you will not find at Starbucks (that’s a good thing).

Chia Rhubarb Apricot Muffins
• 1 ½ cups wholegrain spelt flour
• ½ cup rolled oats
• 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 3 Tbsp. chia seeds + ¼ cup water
• ¼ cup maple syrup
• 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup orange juice
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 1/4 cup finely chopped rhubarb
• 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots (or raisins, dates, cranberries, cherries, etc.)
• optional nuts, seeds, oats for topping (your choice – walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds etc.)

1. Combine chia seeds and water in a glass and set aside for at least 15 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with liners.
3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined.
4. In another bowl, add the chia seed gel, olive oil, maple syrup, orange juice and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth by hand. Add to the flour mixture and blend just until moistened but lumpy. Stir in the rhubarb and apricots.
5. Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Sprinkle the topping of your choice onto each muffin and bake until springy to the touch, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

What else can I do with Chia?
Hold on everybody! The chia train doesn’t stop there! You can add these seeds to just about anything you can eat. Sprinkle them on your morning cereal, yogurt, lunchtime salads, blend them up in smoothies, add them to soups, stews – they work with just about everything. One tablespoon a day is all you need to start experiencing the array of the healthy benefits chia has to offer. And to replace one egg in baking, combine one tablespoon of chia with three tablespoons of water.

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65 thoughts on “Chia Rhubarb Apricot Muffins”

  • Hey! Just a quick question – do you grind the oats here? You mention “the flours” but then don’t mention the oats again. Just wondering!

    • Hi Erin!
      Thanks so much for this catch — I just fixed the text here: oats are left whole and stirred into the batter and there is only one flour, not plural. Take care!

  • These muffins are a staple for me now! I love switching up both the fresh and dried fruit and creating different combinations. I’ve tried pear, apple, blueberry and rhubarb on separate occasions with various dried fruits! All have been delicious. I used 1/2 cup of water with the chia seeds, and they have turned out really well. Thank you for sharing such a versatile vegan muffin!

  • Hi Sarah, I’ve been doing your recipes for years, bought both your books, but it’s the first time I leave a comment. I was given some rhubarb yesterday at work and decided to do this muffins. And once again, my first thought is: ‘she’s a genius!’. There is not a single time I try one of your recipes that I’m not faced with that amazing feeling called novelty. Because nothing about your recipes is boring or usual. Your stuff stretches the mind. Takes me to different places. So thank you very much indeed.

  • I used a 1/2 cup of water with the chia seeds instead of the 1/4 cup listed on the recipe! Muffins turned out great, very spongey and almost chewy! They were a hit! I’ve made them twice so far– once with the rhubarb and dried apricot, and a second time with fresh peaches and blueberries with dried apricot! delicious both ways!

  • I tried them today.. but went out clumpy and too dense.. : / I slightly modified ( did not have enough of “regular” oats) but the proportions were the same.. too much flour.. ?

  • Hi Sarah,

    I made these muffins yesterday to make use of all the rhubarb that grows in our garden. As I did not have dried apricots at home, I used goji berries and they turned out delicious. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

  • I have tried so many of your recipes and I am making them for the second and third time. My husband enjoys them also and that is huge. I enjoy your blog and all the information you pass on to your readers. Thanks so much.

  • I have been trying as many of your recipes as possible. I have already made some of them a second and third time. My husband enjoys them too and that is huge. Thanks so much for all the information you provide on your blog.

  • Just made this with banana instead of ruihbarb ( I didn’t hade any on hand) sprinkled with 80%cacao dark chocolate and they turned incredible amazing!!! thanks Sara 😉

  • I’m enjoying them with my husband, right now, live from Montreal! Since a month, I started trying a few of your recipes, and each time, I’m amazed by how good it tastes. My husband loves them too, which is perfect! Thanks for your work, I will keep spreading the word here in Montréal, Québec, Canada.

  • I just made these and the batter turned out more like dough, as noted in a previous comment.

    I think the problem lies in the water required for the chia mix…1 tablespoon chia seeds needs 3 tablespoons water, so 3 tablespoons chia seeds will need 9 tablespoons water, which is equal to 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon water…twice as much water needed than as noted in the recipe.

  • Retired in Whistler, Canada, and a husband that found a new hobby, healthy cooking! He found your web site through the New York Times. He made the life changing bread and I made the muffins. Lightly toasted with freshly made blackberry jam, so delicious! We will try many more recipes. Thank you!

  • To figure out nutritional info yourself, just go to and enter your own ingredients. Pretty easy.


  • Thanks for this – I’ve been wondering what chia seeds were good for! Sounds like a great muffin – esp. since rhubarb and apricots are 2 of my favorites. But could you possibly give us the nutritional info on these – calories, carbs esp.? My husband is borderline diabetic and we’re keeping his counts in line by watching carbs (which has also helped me to lose and maintain my weight). You say there is no sugar but there’s maple syrup, orange juice and dried fruits! I’d love to try these, but not until I know what the carbs are.

  • However, the good thing is that this will be the very best season for dieting.

    It might be tough to convey no as soon as your husband or friend
    stands up a bowl of ice cream and asks if you need some.

    There is not any single creation that works for everyone including herbal treatments, pills and teas.
    A lot of Americans believe all fats will be unhealthy. However, it had been all about my wrong notion of diets across
    the board, I thought they were difficulty to maintain and never as useful
    as these are thought to be.

  • Oh, I just made them and they turned out perfect! So delicious, they are already a hit at home! Actually, it’s just shortly past midnight and the muffins were supposed for breakfast and for taking to work, but now we go to bed with a muffin each in our stomach already! Thank you very much for the great recipe! Love from Lisbon, Antje

  • Meant to add that we used gluten free plain flour and a pinch of xanthan gum, not spelt flour. Worked a treat!

  • My daughter and I just made these with a twist…we used fresh plums and dates with a chopped almond and maple syrup crunchy topping which we added 5 mins before end of cooking time. We also swapped orange juice for lemon juice. They are amazing!!! So tasty and no nasty stuff. Really impressed and a great way to get chia seeds into the kids! Brilliant, thank you, love this site!

  • I have been dying to find a blog that makes whole food baking easy and delicious! Thank you thank you thank you!

  • I made these yesterday. I found that the batter was so dry that I couldn’t even get the flour to blend in. I followed a previous commenter’s suggestion and added 3 tablespoons of water, 1 at a time. I ended up with such a sticky dough that I had that sinking feeling that they just wouldn’t be right. I spooned it in to the muffin cups, baked them and sadly, threw them away at the end of all of it. Could you tell us what consistency the dough is supposed to be prior to spooning into the muffin cups? Thanks.

  • I had a banana to the wet mix and shredded coconut, raisins and carob chips instead of the rhubarb and apricots. They were supper fluffy and tasty! Even just adding a banana to the original mix makes them less dry.

  • I added an egg, additional honey (sorry Sarah!), yogurt and used apples instead of rhubarb. Also, didn’t use orange juice but added some lemon zest. They tuned out wonderful! Thanks again for an amazing recipe that does a body good. If I don’t eat the entire batch… 🙂

  • Baking with chia does not kill anything. While oxidization will being with the element of heat, the internal temp of the muffin won’t reach the oven temp. Also, baking time is not terribly long and finally, when eaten fairly quickly (no problem there, right?!) much of the benefit should remain intact.

  • Loving your website!! Your recipes are so original and always clean. Love the information your provide about the ingredients you are using. Keep up the spectacular work!!

    • If you don’t make your own flour blend then look for Pamela’s. You can use there products the same as the flour that’s called for in the recipe.

  • Hey Sara!

    Well, the thing when baking with whole grain flours is this: they are not all the same in terms of fiber content. Perhaps your was even “heftier” then mine! You did the right thing by adding some water and I am glad they turned out well 🙂

    All the best, Sarah B

  • Hi!

    I just made these muffins, which are absolutely delicious. However, when I made the batter according to the recipe (unless I missed a step!) the batter was very dry, almost like dough instead of batter. I ended up adding about three tablsespoons of water, which worked just fine. Did I miss something?

    Thanks a lot for the lovely recipes, keep ’em coming!

  • Hi Jenn,

    Yikes! So sorry to hear about your chia disturbances. It sounds to me like you may have a bit of an intolerance to them, which happens! It also could be because of chia’s very high concentration of fiber, which can cause gastrointestinal upset, like you described. Either way, maybe give the chia a rest for a while, then try taking them just in water and see what happens. If your problem persists, it may a food you have to leave out of your diet.

    Good luck!
    Best, Sarah B.

  • dear sarah,
    are there negative effects to chia seeds? i added them into my granola without making any other modifications and all of a sudden i felt sick to my stomach and gassy after eating the granola which i eat for breakfast every day. i waited a couple more days, tried it again, and the same thing happened. at this point i am very reluctant to add chia seeds into anything i eat.
    if you could let me know what you think, that would be great.

  • Great post Sarah! I never knew chia seeds could play such an important role in digestion! I am always looking for ingredients to help me “stay regular” 🙂 Thank you for all of the valuable information. I will have to research more recipes using chia!

  • Hi Jane!

    Thanks so much for your positive feedback – it means a lot!
    you didn’t read the directions incorrectly, I just forgot to add it to the liquid portion of the recipe, so you assumed correctly! Thanks for letting me know 🙂
    And keep coming back for more…

    In health,
    Sarah B.

  • I adore your blog. I jump for joy over your recipes. And I value all your healthy information. I’ve made quite a few of your recipes like the baby step buns, the avacado mousse, and now the chia rhubarb apricot muffins. I was wondering about the muffins—where do I add the maple syrup? I just made them and took the liberty to add them to the liquids. Did I miss it in the directions or was that an error? Just wanted to let you know. Thanks! and keep posting!!!

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