23 Chia Seed Recipes

23 Chia Seed Recipes

Chia seeds are not only packed with nutrition but also equipped with unique traits that make them a versatile feature in many of your meals. Learn more about chia seeds, their benefits, and their uses with the following 23 chia seed recipes.

An Introduction to Chia Seeds

Chia seeds, otherwise known as Salvia hispanica, have roots in southern Mexico and Guatamala and are part of the mint family Lamiaceae. Chia is grown for its seed, which is what is most prized by those looking for concentrated health benefits. In fact, “chia” is the Mayan word for strength.

One ounce of chia seeds contains 138 calories, 9 grams of fat, 11 milligrams of potassium, 10 grams of dietary fiber, nearly 5 grams of protein, 17 percent of the RDA of calcium, 12 percent of the RDA of iron, and 23 percent of the RDA of magnesium. Chia seeds are gluten-free and high in antioxidants.

The chia seed’s most promising feature, though, is its fat content. Each seed is between 25 percent to 40 percent oil, with 60 percent of its oil content comprising the omega-3 alpha-linoleic acid and 20 percent of the omega-6 linoleic acid. Chia seeds have been shown to effectively maintain a balanced serum lipid profile in the body. A proper balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is essential in reducing the risk of many chronic diseases that are prevalent in the U.S. Meanwhile, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have neuroprotective properties, boosting brain function and preventing neurodegenerative and neurological disorders.

Usually, chia seeds are grown organically and without GMO tampering. But still, to be safe, only purchase chia seed brands that are labeled “organic”. Because chia seeds are so concentrated in nutrition, you don’t want to offset their effects with the chemicals used in conventional farming practices.

23 Chia Seed Recipes

The following 23 chia seed recipes will entice your taste buds and infuse your body with all the essential benefits of the superfood in a delicious and fuss-free way. Enjoy!

1. Chocolate Paleo Powerballs

Energize throughout the day with these chocolate paleo powerballs. They’re sweetened with honey and full of healthy fats from almond butter and chia seeds and fiber from gluten-free oats.

2. Sugar-Free Homemade Vegan Yogurt

Who needs hard-to-digest, cow milk-based yogurt in the diet when it’s easy as 1-2-3 to whip up a plant-based alternative? This vegan yogurt recipe relies on almonds, sunflower seeds, probiotics, and the gel-like effects of chia seeds to create a creamy, animal-friendly yogurt.

3. Coconut Chia Pudding with Raspberries and Dark Chocolate

This recipe had me at dark chocolate. Indulge without really indulging at all with this coconut milk-based pudding recipe that balances the tartness of raspberries with the decadent sweetness of dark chocolate.

4. Luscious Chia Seed Pudding

This is a basic chia seed pudding recipe, without the bells and whistles evident in many versions you see today. Master this recipe and venture on to more exotic combinations.

5. No-Knead Spelt Bread

This bread is based in spelt, which is an ancient superfood grain. Dried fruits, nuts, and chia seeds bulk up the mixture and make for a more satisfying (and healthier) bite.

6. Muhammara Recipe with Toasted Chia Seeds

Chia seeds aren’t relegated to sweet concoctions only. In this Middle Eastern-inspired recipe, chia seeds provide a nutty accent to the dense walnut, red pepper, and tomato-heavy Muhammara dip.

7. Mexican Chia Fresca

This traditional fruit is made more satisfying with addition of chia seeds. The result is a refreshing, citrusy beverage that will kick your energy levels up.

8. Quinoa Energy Bars

Nothing spells boosted energy quite like chia seeds do. In this recipe, dates, walnuts, pistachios, quinoa, coconut, figs, and white grape juice come together to make a chewy energy bar whose flavors are augmented by the addition of chia seeds!

9. Green Power Bliss Smoothie with Spinach, Chia and Pea Protein

In this recipe, chia builds texture so you get more satisfaction from your morning fix of greens than you normally would. This smoothie recipe features spinach, pear, avocado, coconut water, and pea protein for the ultimate fiber and protein-packed breakfast or midday snack.

10. Coconut Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

These aren’t your grandma’s chocolate chip cookies. They are a no-bake vegan version of the classic, based in oats, almond butter, nuts, and coconut oil. Mix in chia seeds for an added chew.

11. Strawberry Chia Jam

You don’t need store-bought jam with the homemade version is so easy (and much healthier) to put together. Chia binds together the strawberries, water, lemon, and maple syrup, resulting in a few-ingredient jam that tastes just as good as any manufactured alternative, only without the sugar and excessive processing!

12. Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding

Chia’s rightful place is in a pudding. Without using an artificial thickening agent or dairy yogurt, you can achieve a thick, creamy texture with the swelling nature of chia seeds. In this pudding recipe, you get the comforting and grounding effects of pumpkin and almond essence, sweetened with just a touch of maple syrup.

13. Simple Chocolate-Coffee Energy Bites

These energy bites can be whipped up in under 5 minutes and will give you that much-needed morning dose of energy and welcome chocolate fix. Only a handful of ingredients, including dates, almonds, cocoa powder, and chia seeds, make these delicious bites possible.

14. Watermelon and Strawberry Smoothie

Cool down and energize up with this smoothie recipe. Chia seeds add more bulk to the beverage.

15. Vegan Sweet Potato Granola

What isn’t in this granola recipe? Grain-fee, sugar-free, and dairy-free, this granola is full of wholesome ingredients, including almonds, coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, pecans, sweet potato puree, and, of course, chia seeds!

16. Probiotic Matcha Nice Cream

Ice cream is elevated to superfood status in this “nice cream” recipe, which includes maca powder, probiotic powder, matcha powder, and chia seeds. The base is a combination of frozen banana and mango, making for the perfect lightly-sweet treat.

17. Superfood Granola with Kale

Follow the suggestion of this recipe and add in chia to the already superfood-heavy formula. Kale, dried cranberries, seeds, nuts, and dates come together to do the seemingly impossible: turning granola green.

18. Green Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are incredibly convenient for those among us with busy mornings. A little foresight the night before is all it takes to wake up to a breakfast that is ready for munching. This green overnight oats recipe is a simple take on overnight oats, only with the nutritional boost offered by fresh spinach and chia seeds.

19. Raw Vegan Linzer Cookies

These classic cookies are good enough to warrant a more prominent place in your diet; however, it’s hard to justify unless they get a healthier twist. This vegan linzer cookies recipe is fuss-free, even eliminating the need to bake. Chia seeds are essential in firming the raspberry jam filling.

20. Warming Vegan Smoothie with Maca and Raw Chocolate

This smoothie is full of substance, including nuts, chocolate, hemp, chia, maca, vanilla, maple syrup, spices, and even a little cayenne pepper. It’ll warm your senses and your soul.

21. Black Bean Brownies

What if I told you that you could have brownies everyday for breakfast without threatening your hard-earned waistline? These gluten-free and egg-free black bean brownies make it possible! Black beans make for a unique base to this recipe and actually don’t offer any discernible taste. Instead, black beans offer the dense texture characteristic of brownies without the eggs or flour. Sweetened with honey or agave, these brownies also contain no white sugar! Chia seeds help to firm the batter and unsweetened cocoa powder dominates the flavor profile, and in an entirely welcome way.

22. Vegan Mango Chia Pudding

Add a little tropical touch to your breakfast with this mango chia pudding recipe. Sweetened with agave, textured with chia seeds, and based in coconut milk, the dish is vegan and full of sweet, creamy flavor!

23. Egg Substitute

Vegan cooking is a realm characterized by loopholes of creativity. You can substitute eggs in many baked recipes with a simple mixture of chia seeds and water. Chia has a binding effect similar to eggs and makes for the perfect egg alternative. Try it out!

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Chia Seeds Image from Shutterstock, Matcha Image from EcoSalon, Linzer Image from EcoSalon,

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Ancient grains with new bite

Ancient grains with new bite

Ancient grains amaranth, freekeh, farrow,quinoa, Kamut. Photographed at the Great Lakes Culinary Center.(Photo: Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Press)Buy Photo

Are you familiar with freekeh? How about Kamut? And amaranth or emmer?

Known as ancient grains, and found in the rice and grain aisle at grocery stores, these old grains are new again. With roots that trace back centuries and once found mainly at health food and specialty stores, ancient grains are becoming more mainstream at your local grocery stores.

Ancient grains, a staple in cultures worldwide, have many health benefits. Some have even called them a super food. While most ancient grains carry a list of essential vitamins and minerals, “Labeling these grains as super — the latest trend — is hyperbole. All whole grains are healthful, each in its own way,” according to a 2014 University of California Berkeley Wellness report.

“Ancient grains are certainly more nutritious than refined grain products (like white flour or refined crackers), but the health benefits of whole grains need not come with high price tags or mythic origin stories,” Kelly Toups, a registered dietitian and program manager for Boston-based Oldways Whole Grains Council, said in an e-mail.

The health benefits of whole grains, says Toups, include reduced risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A lower risk of colorectal cancer is also associated with whole grains.

In the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s recommended that half the grains you consume should be whole grains.

In terms of popularity, first came quinoa and little-by-little, lesser known grains like freekah, farro, kamut and amaranth cropped up. You will find them on their own or paired with others in grain medleys. Some of these grains, like quinoa and kamut, are also ground into flours and used to replace other flours in ingredients like pasta. Many of these ancient grains, like millet and amaranth, are also gluten-free.

Evidence is mounting that more Americans are making whole grains a part of their diets.

Ancient grains were named a top food trend in the National Restaurant Association’s 2016 Culinary Forecast. According to a report from data research firm Packaged Facts, sales growth of kamut for the 52-week period ending July 2014 was up 686%. Freekeh sales increased 159%, and amaranth was up 123%.

Flavor profiles of ancient grains range from farro’s hearty and earthy nuances to aramanth and quinoa’s mild flavor. You can use ancient grains as a side dish or swap them out for rice in most recipes.

Today’s Feast recipes include using quinoa to make cakes and mixing farro with spinach and tahini. Freekeh is paired with caramelized onions and chickpeas for a protein-packed dish. And tiny aramanth lends its texture to cornmeal muffins. Kamut adds interest to a breakfast bowl with avocado and quinoa. Any leftover cooked grains are great addition tossed in a salad.

So up your grain game and give these ancient grains a try.

Contact Susan Selasky at 313-222-6872 or sselasky@freepress.com. Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.

Amaranth (ama-ranth)

Botanically speaking, amaranth is considered a pseuodo-grain because it’s a seed, not a grain. But it’s thought of as a grain because its nutritional profile is so similar to cereal grains. Amaranth is also eaten like a grain. Amaranth is tiny, smaller than the size of a pin head. Has a porridge-like consistency and is often used in a such a way.

Advantages: Gluten-free and high in protein. Amaranth is also noted for potentially lowering cholesterol.

Cook it: Amaranth cooks quickly. Place 1 cup amaranth in 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook 20 minutes. You can pop it like popcorn in a dry skillet and stir it into melted chocolate or granola.

Recipe to try: Amaranth-cornmeal Muffins

Farro (far-ro)

Cultivated in Italy, farro is often called emmer and einkorn. You will find farro in whole, pearled and semi-pearled varieties. Whole takes longer to cook because it still has the germ and bran. It’s hulled, but the process keeps the germ and bran intact. Pearled and semi-pearled have some of the nutritous germ and bran removed. Use it in place of rice in risotto, in pilafs, in stuffings and salads.

Advantages: High in fiber and protein, has no fat and has more calcium than quinoa. Farro has a hearty, yet nutty flavor. It’s also a little on the chewy side.

Cook it: Place 1 cup farro in 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer about 1 hour for whole farro, 30 minutes for pearled and 30 to 40 minutes for semi-pearled. Drain any excess water.

Recipe to try: Farro with Tahini and Spinach

Quinoa (keen-WAH)

Quinoa is called the mother of all grains because it’s a complete protein and contains all the essential amino acids. This grain is grown mainly in South America and is considered sacred by the Incas. Its annual harvest starts in late March, according to the Whole Grains Council. You will find white, red and black quinoa varieties or a medley of all three.

Advantages: Gluten-free and a nutrient all-star containing protein and fiber. One cup of cooked quinoa has 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. It has a slightly crunchy texture that’s more pronounced in the black variety. Based on its health properties and ease of growing, quinoa is thought of as an important crop as a world food source. Use it in soups, salads and as a side dish.

How to cook: To cook 1 cup of quinoa to serve as a side dish, place it in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Recipe to try: Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Garlic Aioli.

Freekeh (free-kuh)

This is the newest to the grain aisle. The name freekeh means “to rub” in Arabic, so this grain is named after how it’s made — not the variety of wheat. Young green grains are parched and roasted and then rubbed to reveal the roasted grains. You’ll find it on its own in whole or cracked varieties. Freekeh has a smoky and nutty flavor.

Advantages: Fiber-rich with a low glycemic index according to “Simply Ancient” by Maria Speck (Penguin Random House, $27.50).

How to cook: Freekeh is sold whole or cracked. The latter cooks faster. Add 1 cup of freekeh to 2½ cups water or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and cook about 20 minutes or until just tender

Recipe to try: Freekeh with Caramelized Shallots, Chickpeas and Greek Yogurt.

Kamut (ka-MOOT)

Kamut is a trademarked name for Khorasan wheat. It’s about twice the size of a wheat berry and closely related to wheat. Kamut is fatter than a grain of rice and puffs up a little once cooked. There are two references of Kamut’s origins: called the Prophet’s Wheat because it’s thought that Noah brought Kamut kernals on the Ark. It’s also called King Tut’s Wheat because of claims that it was found in the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh.

Advantages: A good source of protein and fiber. Some sources say that people who are wheat-intolerant may be able to tolerate and digest Kamut.

How to cook: Kamut is best if you soak it overnight before cooking. Place 1 cup Kamut in a bowl, cover with 3 cups water and soak overnight. Drain off the water. In a saucepan bring 3 cups water or broth to a boil. Add the Kamut, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 30-40 minutes (about 1 hour if you didn’t soak it). Drain off any excess water and serve.

Recipe to try: Avocado Breakfast Bowl with Kamut and Quinoa.

Sesame Extends Its Sweet Reach Beyond the Middle East

Sesame Extends Its Sweet Reach Beyond the Middle East


Pistachio halvah from Seed & Mill in Chelsea Market. Credit Liz Barclay for The New York Times

When the chef Danielle Oron was growing up in the New Jersey suburbs, she knew that her Israeli family’s habits of dousing vanilla ice cream with tahini and spreading halvah on toast would be considered odd. Sesame was for cold Chinese noodles, bagels and not much else.

“My American friends wouldn’t have understood that tahini is an addiction for Israelis; that we eat it out of the jar,” she said. “Sesame cookies, chocolate halvah, tahini with silan,” a date honey — “those are the treats everyone grows up with.”

Throughout the Middle East, sesame sweets are the taste of childhood. For Philippe Massoud, the Lebanese-American chef at Ilili in New York, it came in a bowl of carob molasses, with a float of tahini to stir together and eat with bread.

“Tahini and carob molasses is the peanut butter and jelly of the Middle East,” said Mr. Massoud, who lived in Lebanon until the age of 15; his family has been in the business of sweets there for more than 100 years. “A sandwich of butter, halvah and chocolate shavings is the best after-school snack of all time.”


Rose-water halvah from Seed & Mill, with tahini dip. Credit Liz Barclay for The New York Times

Tahini, or pure sesame paste, and halvah, a soft sesame candy, are among the most ancient and beloved foods of that region. But outside traditional Middle Eastern enclaves like Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and Dearborn, Mich., sesame has never been a favorite flavor in American desserts.

For decades, sesame bars and brittle were available only in health-food stores, a tip-off that any possible deliciousness would be trumped by nutrition. For American Jews, halvah has long been familiar but often feared as a strange beige loaf passing itself off as dessert and stored a little too close to the herring at venerable appetizing stores like Russ & Daughters on the Lower East Side.

But no more. The updated Russ & Daughters Cafe that opened in 2014 serves a sundae of halvah ice cream and sesame crumble, drizzled with a deep salted caramel. New producers like Brooklyn Sesame and Soom Foods in Philadelphia are inventing mash-ups like coconut halvah spread and chocolate sesame butter. They are also making tahini that is fresh, light and creamy enough to remain emulsified in the jar, eliminating the hassle of stirring rock-solid sesame paste into oil.

“When I arrived, I couldn’t believe people here still thought that was tahini,” said Lisa Mendelson, an owner of Seed & Mill, a new all-sesame emporium in Chelsea, who was raised in Israel. “Americans just haven’t had a chance to develop a palate for it.”

As Americans have become enamored of Middle Eastern food (especially hummus, which is strongly flavored with tahini), sesame-forward dishes and desserts are popping up like crocuses. At Bar Bolonat in the West Village, a halvah crème brûlée; at Mr. Massoud’s Ilili, a crunchy topping composed of tahini, melted chocolate and crushed Rice Chex.


Pure tahini being made from the mill at Seed and Mill. Credit Liz Barclay for The New York Times

“Often, you don’t even taste the tahini,” he said. “It’s just this nutty, salty undertone that makes sweet things taste even better.”

For cooks who want to achieve this effect at home, salted tahini chocolate chip cookies are a great place to start. Rich, savory and sweet, they are one of the rare variations that are just as good as the original.

“For the American palate, that’s the gateway recipe for tahini,” said Ms. Oron, who devised the recipe.

Some observant Jews do not eat sesame during Passover, which begins at sunset on April 22, placing it in the category of kitniyot — foods that resemble wheat — which are forbidden during the eight days of the holiday.

But for many others, sesame in desserts is a timeless way to connect their home kitchens to Israeli tradition. In Israel, sesame cookies and pastries are everywhere, as are vendors of halvah: Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market is home to the most famous, Halva Kingdom, where nearly 100 different flavors are sold, and where each round cake sprouts its own paper label, like the wheels of cheese in a French fromagerie.


A grilled halvah panini on challah at Seed & Mill. Credit Liz Barclay for The New York Times

There, and elsewhere in the region, chefs are looking at tahini and halvah with new appreciation. “There has already been a major push on the savory side to reinvent our cuisine,” said Mr. Massoud of chefs in the Middle East. “Now there is an equally strong push to reinvent the sweet.”

Tahini and halvah were long considered peasant food, good enough for those who could not afford sweets with expensive ingredients like butter, white flour and sugar. But now the region’s modern chefs are embracing these ancient flavors, devising new treats like multilayered halvah, sesame ice creams and pâte brisée made with tahini instead of butter.

Like peanut butter, tahini is made by grinding a naturally oily seed or nut until the solids are minuscule enough to form a smooth emulsion with the oil. But before the grinding begins, the unhulled sesame seeds are soaked, roasted, hulled and dried. Connoisseurs say that every step, and other factors like sourcing and humidity, affect the taste and mouthfeel of the finished product.

Halvah is approximately half sesame paste and half sugar, but that doesn’t convey its luxurious lightness. The sugar is boiled and whipped to a foam in a particular way that produces the confection’s sandy, melting texture. Small producers all over the Middle East still use caldrons, paddles and troughs — and the strength of young men for some vigorous hand-kneading — to produce the most coveted, fluffy halvah.

Tahini and halvah are also staples in Greece, Turkey and the Balkans. For Eastern Orthodox Christians there, rich, oily tahini is a key ingredient during Great Lent (Orthodox Easter falls on May 1). All animals and animal products are forbidden, putting those who observe the fast on a vegan diet for 40 days.

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“As a child, I can’t say I looked forward to those tahini desserts,” said Aglaia Kremezi, a historian of Greek food; there, too, sesame was long considered a poor substitute for “real” sweets. But she’s now an enthusiast, especially for the pasteli — soft wedges of sesame seeds, thyme honey and orange zest — made for thousands of years on the Cycladic island of Kea, where she lives. In her own kitchen, she has rethought the traditional tahini filling for a Lenten cinnamon roll called tahinopita, and developed a super-easy recipe for halvah semifreddo, a frozen emulsion of fresh whipped cream and crystalline halvah. “Using tahini and halvah as flavorings, instead of things you eat on their own, has changed the way I taste them,” she said.

Maura Kilpatrick has been rethinking traditional sesame desserts for more than a decade as the pastry chef at Oleana, a refined Middle Eastern restaurant in Cambridge, Mass.

“Tahini is the most underrated ingredient in the dessert pantry,” said Ms. Kilpatrick, who said she had barely tasted the stuff when she began working with it but soon found herself compulsively pouring it into hot chocolate and adding it to brioche dough. Now, at her nearby bakery, Sofra, the sesame desserts are the stuff of dreams — and of doughnuts. First, she invented a stuffed doughnut, modeled on a Boston cream, with tahini in the dough and a brown-butter/tahini filling. Then came a coconut cake doughnut coated with sugar-spiked dukkah, an Egyptian mix of cumin, pepper, coriander, salt, sesame seeds and chopped nuts. Both are available only on weekends, and they sell out in a matter of hours.

Sesame desserts are not limited to the Eastern Mediterranean, of course. Halvah spread north through the Balkans and to Eastern Europe with Jewish migrants, for whom it served as useful kosher sweet, and by the 19th century it was already popular in Poland and Romania. (Coming full circle, this is why halvah is a staple in Jewish-American delicatessens.)

Sesame was one of the first plants people cultivated for oil, and it was grown for millenniums in hot climates around the world. Since the seeds must be harvested from the pods by hand, it is now mostly raised where labor is inexpensive: China, India, Myanmar and sub-Saharan Africa, where the plant originated.


Coconut cake doughnuts coated with sugar-spiked dukkah, and stuffed doughnuts, modeled on a Boston cream, with tahini in the dough and a brown-butter/tahini filling, from Sofra, a bakery in Cambridge, Mass. Credit Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times

Black sesame paste is a sweet staple in East Asia, used in everything from traditional inky dessert soup to trendy Japanese chiffon cakes and cheesecakes (the results are an elegant shade of dove-gray). One of the most auspicious of Chinese New Year treats is jian due, balls of fluffy sweet rice dough coated in golden sesame seeds. Sesame candy balls and brittle are popular in India, especially in the winter, where the seed, “til” in Hindi, is considered a warming food in Ayurvedic tradition.

Sesame plants arrived with Africans in the American South, where the Bantu word “benne” is still used for the seeds — and where benne wafers, melting little savory crackers, are a classic recipe. The grain expert Glenn Roberts is part of a modest push to restore sesame cultivation to the South: His company, Anson Mills, sells small quantities of domestic sesame flour, oil and “benne cream,” which may be described as American tahini. That’s why, at innovative Southern restaurants like Eugene in Atlanta or Rhubarb in Asheville, N.C., benne flour may pop up in the pastry crust for peach pie, benne cream in the dressing for an updated hoppin’ John and benne seeds in a bar snack like Rhubarb’s brown sugar-benne popcorn.

Also boosting interest in and sales of tahini in the United States: the growing number of American vegans, who appreciate its natural richness; its high levels of protein, calcium, iron and fiber; and its smoothie-friendly texture.

In February, halvah completed its artisanal arc with the opening of the chic-simple Seed & Mill stall in the bustling Chelsea Market, where tahini is milled on site. Fluffy round cakes of halvah in flavors like rose, lemon, ginger and cardamom are artfully garnished with shiny coffee beans, leaf-green chopped pistachios and curling chocolate shards, the better to be cooed over and Instagrammed all day long. Its halvah is made by small producers in Israel to the owners’ specifications; some of their recipes include butter, to make the halvah especially light and melting.

“It’s hard to describe halvah to people who’ve never had it,” said Monica Molenaar, an owner. “If they are American, I tell them it’s like the inside of a Butterfinger. And if that doesn’t work, I just give them a taste.”

Recipes: Halvah Semifreddo With Hazelnuts | Chocolate-Sesame Crunch Bars | Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies