What once used to be a relatively unknown little seed, causing my already quite health trend savvy customers at Whole Foods Market to go, Chia - what?... has today become so popular it's even carried by big supermarkets such as Tesco.
I first learnt about chia when reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. In his book, he tells the story of the Tarahumara Indians who he companions in the depth of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyon valley in order to learn the secrets of the world's best distance runners. He finds out that the Chia seed is one of the staple foods in the diet of these incredible endurant runners, who also live with an uncanny health and serenity.
So what's so special about these little seeds? Well, they have an impressive nutritional proflle. They are high in essential fatty acids, are loaded with antioxidants (more than blueberries), they contain many vitamins and minerals (including more calcium than milk), and they also have lots of fibre and protein. And according to this Huffington post article, chia seeds have the perfect balance of fatty acids, with 30% of their fat coming from omega-3 and 10% from omega-6. Bam!
And what do I do with them?
I like to sprinkle them on salads or smoothies, but whenever I can - I try to soak them. This makes them even more filling and it helps your body to benefit from this powerhouse of a seed.
You've got two options here, you can either soak them in water making a drink known as "Chia Fresca", or you can make the renown "Chia Pudding".
For one person
1 big glass of cold water, still or sparkling
1 large lemon or lime, sliced
1 teaspoon chia seeds
To taste, a natural sweetener of choice - stevia, honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar + refreshing herbs like mint or basil.
Stir together all the ingredients. Leave in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to allow the chia seeds to soak up water. Stir occasionally so the seeds don't settle. Enjoy!
Serves one person
2 tbsp chia seed
1/2 cup (120 ml) plant milk (I often use almond, hazelnut or coconut milk)
a pinch of vanilla powder
a few fresh berries
1/2 tsp cinnamon
I usually prepare my chia pudding the night before I want to eat it, or in the morning before leaving for work. That way, it has time to soak well in the fridge. If you prepare it first thing in the morning, place it in the fridge while you get ready for work or school, and then pop it in your bag.
To make the pudding, place two tablespoons of chia seeds in a bowl or container. Pour half a cup of the milk on top, and add vanilla. Use a chopstick or fork to stir the chia so that it dissolves evenly in the milk. If you use a container, you can also place a lid on top and shake it.
Let set in the fridge for 20 minutes and leave up to 48 hours. Add berries and sprinkle wth cinnamon before serving. Enjoy!