Monday, June 24, 2013

Meatless Monday: Getting to Know Chia

For just over a week now I have been experimenting with Chia Seeds, a staple in Central American diets for centuries recently popularized as a superfood among runners.

I covered the extraordinary nutritional value in Chia Seeds in last week’s Meatless Monday post

I also discussed the mysterious chemical property of the seeds — that they turn into a gel when left in liquid, while maintaining their crunch. This is a good thing if you want to make a no-cook “pudding.” However, the texture is not for the faint-hearted. I have to say that so far finding a fail-safe use for Chia Seeds has been my greatest culinary challenge.

My good friend Cher who keeps a vegan household, confessed that she “just can’t get past the slime.” I have a bigger problem with the gel being crunchy. 

Still, the low-carb, high protein content of the seeds has made me determined to find easy and delicious ways to use them.

I promised you a report on the breakfast “pudding” that was still gelling when I posted last week. Here is the link to the recipe for Banana-Coconut Pudding in the photo below. The only change I made was to use 4 tablespoons of syrup rather than one. 

The result was what my husband termed “porridge with a crunch.” It was tasty, but I am not convinced it would have been without the banana and all the toppings. The “pudding” had the decidedly weird trait of pulling away from the side of the bowl as it was being eaten, leaving my bowl looking licked clean when I was done. It was definitely filling. This recipe made 4 large servings and stored well in the fridge. 

My friend K, the one who first tipped me off to Chia Seeds, had better luck. He wrote to me about his successful experiment with a Chia Pudding inspired by a  a recipe on the back of the packet of Trader Joe’s Chia Seeds. Here is his recipe:

No-Cook Chia Pudding
 Handful of fresh strawberries
1/2 ripe banana 
Spritz of lime juice 
1 cup coconut milk  
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar 
1/4 cup Chia Seeds
Put all the ingredients except the seeds into a blender. 
Blend until smooth.
Pour into a bowl.
Add the Chia Seeds.
Combine & refrigerate for 3 hours.
K’s verdict: Yummy :-)

Not to be outdone by K, I tweaked the recipe for the Mexican Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding I blogged about last week. There is a bowl in the fridge ready to serve tonight. I have scooped out a taste and am happy to say that I can call it a “dessert.” My new and improved recipe follows.

Chia Cocoa Mousse 
1/3 cup Chia Seeds
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Grind the Chia Seeds to a fine powder.
Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl.
Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
Spoon into four dessert glasses.

While the final verdict is not in, I believe I am many steps closer to a Chia dessert to please all tastes and diets. I do, however, have a carton of rich Vanilla Greek Yogurt on hand to top off my Chia Mousse just in case it’s requested.

Have a great week. Happy eating.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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