Okay – let’s get this over with. All together now, “Ch… ch… ch… Chia!”
Now that we got that out of our systems, let’s look at the amazing little chia seed. A superfood, these beauties are believed to have been a staple in the Aztec and Mayan diets. Just 2 tablespoons provide 6g of fiber and are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids – an important detail for vegetarians. They have advantages over the flaxseed (another omega-3 choice of vegetarians) since chia seeds do not have to be ground up for the body to absorb their benefits. They also provide protein, as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc. They help the body balance blood sugar levels making them beneficial to diabetics. They are also great if you’re on a diet (and who isn’t) since they absorb moisture and expand in size giving the body a nice full feeling. That said, you should make sure you stay properly hydrated when using chia.
They have a light, nutty taste – very neutral in flavor – so they can be added to just about anything: cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, salads…whatever you like. They can also be ground up and used in baking.
For many raw recipes, like a pudding, they are usually made into a gel first before being added to the other ingredients. Some use the gel in place of eggs when baking.
Here’s my recipe for a sweet treat that tastes amazingly like rice pudding – without the starch, the dairy, and the processed sugar. This is a delicious alternative and so nutritious it can be a meal (sometimes it’s my breakfast).
Raw Chia Pudding
Mix Chia Gel and Vanilla Cream Sauce together (recipes below) for an amazing treat. You can also just soak the chia seeds in almond milk (preferably raw) and vanilla with whatever sweetener you prefer. But if you have the time, make it with the Vanilla Cream Sauce – you won’t be sorry.
2 Tbl chia seed
About ¼ cup of water, maybe a little more – you want the chia seeds to have enough water room to expand properly
Mix together and let sit until the mixture expands and becomes gelatinous – this will only take about 10-20 minutes. Chia seed gel keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, so make more and you will always have some on hand.
Vanilla Cream Sauce– recipe taken from Jennifer Cornbleet’s book, Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 people – by the way, I’ve substituted raw honey/maple syrup/stevia for the agave nectar that the original recipe calls for. )
1 cup soaked raw cashews (soaked for about 2 hours, rinsed)
¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons (or less – adjust to taste) – pure maple syrup/raw honey (or small amount of other sweetener like stevia -adjust quantity according to the sweetener you use)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract – the pure kind, not artificial – or seeds of 1 vanilla bean
Place all ingredients in a blender and process on high speed until smooth. Chill for at least 30 minutes (if you can keep from eating the whole thing right then and there). Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Will keep for 5 days (trust me, it will be all gone before that).
By the way, cashew cream (vanilla cream sauce) is delicious with berries, especially strawberries. A great alternative to the various dairy creams out there.
The chia seed is making quite a comeback. Everything I’ve read about chia is all good – no downside whatsoever. It’s been talked about on Dr. Oz, the Today Show, Dr. Andrew Weil’s website among other places. There are many other recipes out there as well on other blogs. I recommend that you explore ways to include this little food that packs a powerful nutritious punch to your daily diet.