Last week I was in Mexico and of course picked up a new cookbook, Cocina Mexicana, by Beatriz Cadena. I was delighted and a bit surprised to see one of the first beverage recipes: Aguas Frescas: de CHIA (sage seed). I didn't realize that the chia drink is a traditional Mexican beverage, and although just gaining popularity within recent years, chia seeds have been used for centuries by the Aztecs. The Aztecs would eat them to gain long-lasting energy, and would also grind them in flours, use them in medicines, and mix them with other foods. The Aztecs definitely knew what they were doing, as these tiny seeds are an excellent source of fiber, protein, essential fatty acids, and minerals. Andalé!
Chia seeds can be used in several ways and I hope you begin experimenting! Here are a couple ideas:
- As a thickener for sauces and soups
- Added to water or diluted juices (great for kids!)
- As a binding agent in desserts (can be used as an egg replacement)
- Added to a breakfast quinoa porridge, or sprinkled in oatmeal
- Soaked in water and gobbled down in between meals to curb cravings
- Made into pudding and enjoyed as a meal
- Added to smoothies for a thicker consistency, or sprinkled on top of a smoothie bowl
I usually enjoy them as a delicious dessert (flavored with vanilla bean and cacao powder) or as a breakfast when I want to switch up my regular 'ole routine. Here's a recipe to get you started:
Vanilla Chia Pudding
This pudding can serve as a great snack or dessert. Try infusing it with different flavors such as unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, or any other of your favorite spices.
Using full-fat coconut from the can will give you creamy, decadent pudding. The full fat version will separate in the can, so make sure you blitz in a blender, just briefly to combine. You can use other milk alternatives too, the pudding just may be thinner, and you may need to add more chia seeds.
- 1 cup coconut milk, full fat
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- small pinch sea salt
- 2 dates
- 2.5 tablespoons chia seeds
Example Toppings: use what you have or what’s in season!
- Chopped nuts/seeds
- Coconut flakes
- Pomegranate seeds
- Chopped fruit (apple, kiwi, banana)
- Raisins, currants, or other dried fruits
- Add the coconut milk and water to a blender and mix until just combined.
- Add the vanilla extract, dates, and pinch of sea salt and blend until the dates are fully pulverized.
- Pour milk into a bowl.
- Add in chia seeds, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly with a spoon as you pour them in.
- Let sit for 5 minutes, then mix again.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.
- Once settled and chia seeds have expanded, add more milk or water if you want it thinner, then add desired toppings.