What’s so special about these little back chia seeds and why are we only going nuts for them now? They are the edible seed of the Salvia hispanica - native to Mexico And Guatemala - and for centuries, have been a part of the diet of the people of these regions. Popularised by the new wave of eating that has been ‘discovering’ indigenous foods, chia seeds are hailed for their high Omega 3 and calcium content. For vegans, they are a must. Best of all, these little seeds yield a glutinous jelly as they swell up with liquid, and this can be used in a number of healthy dishes, especially for breakfasts and for puddings. Take a look at some of these ideas and get yourself a starter pack of chia seeds to experiment!
BASIC CHIA ‘PUDDING’
Chia seeds need liquid and a little sweetener to make the base for all these lovely options. For every cup of liquid, you will need ¼ cup of chia seeds. Lacto vegetarians can use cow’s milk; vegans can use almond, cashew, or coconut milk, preferably homemade. Place your 1/4 cup of chia seeds in a sealable glass jar with the liquid. Add maple syrup, agave or honey to taste and leave in the fridge to soak and jellify for at least 4 hours or even overnight. Chia is a textural ingredient and easily absorbs flavours, making it ideal for creating personal combinations that suit your particular taste range.
CHIA PUDDING WITH FRUITY SMOOTHIE TOPPING
Start your day or finish off your evening meal with a yummy combination of chia pudding (made with the milk of your choice) topped up with a fruit smoothie. The combination of the textured jelly-like chia pudding and the smooth fruit puree is really delicious and also very filling. Here are some combinations you can try to top your basic chia pudding:
Banana Option: Place a ripe banana; a little cinnamon powder; a dash of vanilla extract; and a tablespoon of either fresh cream, creamy yoghurt, nut cream or coconut cream, in your blender and blend until totally smooth. Half-fill a trendy jar or a glass with chia pudding, top up with the banana smoothie and garnish with chopped nuts.
Nutty Date Option: Soak 4 or 5 nice quality dates in a little warm water, then pop into the blender. Add a tablespoon of soaked almonds or cashews and blend until smooth. Put most of your date & nut mix into your serving glass/jar first, followed by chia pudding, then glaze with what’s left of the date mix, and decorate with chopped almonds.
Sunshine Orange Option: Peel and section a ripe orange with a sharp knife, lifting out the segments. Sprinkle a little sugar or your favourite sweetener over them. Place sections of the orange against the glass’s sides, fill up with chia pudding and top with the rest of the orange sections and a dollop of sweet marmalade.
CHIA BREAKFAST TREATS
Combine the chia seed pudding with chopped fresh fruits; nuts – toasted or raw, chopped or whole; your favourite seeds; or any dried fruits you enjoy. Try classical combinations of certain spices and fruits e.g. nutmeg and apple; clove and orange; cinnamon and banana.
Ring the changes by diluting raw cocoa powder in a little milk and stirring it into the chia pudding; this ups the nutrition value and helps with chocolate cravings!
Replace the raw cocoa with a tot of cold espresso, stirring it into the chia pudding. For sheer early morning decadence, top with chocolate nibs and nutty creams.
Join the macha set and dilute a teaspoon of this punchy, green powder with a little nut milk before adding it to your chia pudding. Complimentary fruits include chopped kiwi fruit and strawberries.