Cheeky Chia

 

The first time I heard of Chia was during the 1980’s. Chia Pets were all the rage, those very kitsch terracotta planters in the shape of animals that grew “Chia hair”. Back then, Chia seeds seemed only good for decoration and as a novelty, there was little appreciation for the nutritional benefits of this amazing tiny seed, little did we know that Chia would emerge as the remarkable super food it is today ! Although you can still buy a Chia pet kit, in fact, I recently saw Barack Obama complete with a Chia Afro, now that’s tacky! I think I’d prefer to eat my Chia seeds instead!

 Obama Chia!

 

What is Chia?

 

 

Chia (Salvia hispanica) is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, native to southern Mexico and Guatemala. In pre-Colombian times it was a part of the Mayan and Aztec diets, the word Chia meaning “strength” in Mayan. So valued were the seeds they were even used by the indigenous peoples of this region in religious ceremonies.

 

Chia was used in Mayan religious ceremonies

 

These tiny super seeds are loaded with nutrients :

 

Omega 3 fats-They are one of the highest plant sources of omega-3 fats, which are essential for cardiovascular health, a healthy nervous system and brain and soft skin.

 

High in fibre- Chia seeds are an excellent source of dietary fibre , important for bowel and digestive health, regulating blood sugar levels and cholesterol, increasing fullness and helping with weight control.

 

Protein- providing the body with essential amino acids for growth and repair.

 

Calcium -Just 100g of chia seeds contain as much calcium as two cups of milk, making them valuable for bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis.

 

Other essential minerals and vitamins - Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Zinc, Potassium, Iron ,B1 , B2 & B3 which naturally boost energy levels in the body.

 

High in Antioxidants- Chia seeds are naturally high in antioxidants which allow them to be stored for long periods of time and not go rancid like other seeds such as Flaxseeds.

 

 

 

How to use Chia

 

There are so many ways to incorporate Chia seeds in your diet -they can be ground and sprinkled over muesli, porridge and other breakfast cereals. You can also add them to smoothies, salads and stir-fries, sprinkle them over vegetables or add to baking.

 

 

One of the most popular methods of using Chia seeds is “Chia pudding”, by soaking in a liquid such as water, coconut water or nut milks until they “gel” then adding any flavours such as fresh fruits, nuts ,seeds cinnamon or cacoa, your imagination can run wild! Kids love chia puddings! You can get a wonderful edible pudding that is both a filling and nutritious treat.

 

Hydration

 

 

Chia Fresco

 

Chia seeds are wonderful for hydration as they soak up so much liquid as they expand and make a perfect hydrating energy drink – Just add 2 tablespoons of Chia seeds to a cup of coconut water, let sit for 10 minutes and you’ve got a great hydration drink without the addition of artificial sweeteners , colours or chemicals.

 

Because of their ability to absorb both water and fat, they can be used to thicken sauces and even used as egg substitutes in recipes. I love that you can use them as an egg substitute and have used them many times when baking for friends that are vegan or have egg intolerances.

 

 

To substitute for an egg: Use 1 tablespoon finely ground chia seeds (grind them dry in a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder) and 3 tablespoons of water per egg in a baked recipe.

 

 

Organic is best!

 

Like all food we consume if we can get a product that is organically grown of course this is superior to conventionally grown foods. The same principal applies to Chia seeds - Go Organic!!

 

Finally– If you like the idea of a Chia Pet – go ahead and buy one or just sprout some– they are very much like alfalfa – so try sprouting some and adding them to your salads for some extra crunch and nutrition.

 

This a recipe that a friend of mine made for brunch one day, but it  would make a lovely light summer dessert or breakfast dish.

 

 

Persian Organic Chia Fruit Pudding


Ingredients

¼ cup organic chia seeds

100ml filtered water

50 mls fresh lemon or lime juice

80 mls  agave or maple syrup

80 mls rose water

1/3 of a diced medium fresh pineapple

1 diced pear

Juice of 1 small beetroot

 

Method

Slowly combine organic chia seeds with filtered water in a large glass bowl , stirring to prevent clumping,  keep stirring for the next 10 mins until the chia seeds start to swell. Leave for about half an hour so they soak up all the water and thicken to a nice gel ,occasionally stirring to prevent  clumping.

 

Whist this is happening dice the fruit and prepare the other ingredients.  Once chia gel is ready, stir in fruit and other liquid and allow to sit for half an hour or longer to allow seed to gel more – if pudding seems too thick you can add a little more filtered water . 

 

Serve with a dollop of coconut yoghurt or coconut cream and a sprinkle of pistachio nuts.

 

You can substitute fruit and add other spices such cinnamon, cardamom, or vanilla as required.

 

Serves 2- 4 people depending on size of serve 

 

Yours in heath,
until next time Diana