Chia Seeds – Nature’s Little Powerhouse

The first time I heard of Chia was when Chia pets were popular in the 80’s – remember those “adorable” green leafy creatures that you grew by watering an animal shaped terracotta pot. Who knew then that beyond their ability to grow animals, Chia seeds are actually a dynamo superfood. Turns out that the Aztecs and Mayans in pre-Columbian times did! Chia was an important part of their diet and legend has it that a single tablespoon could sustain Aztec warriors all day. The seeds, which come from a plant called Salvia Hispanica are loaded with many healthy benefits.

They are the richest source of plant based omega-3 fatty acids (higher than flax seeds)  – great news for vegans. Chia seeds provide an excellent source of fiber – both soluble and insoluble which helps you feel full and keeps things moving smoothly.

They are full of anti-oxidants, protein and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, niacin and zinc.

Chia seeds look like tiny poppy seeds, have a crunchy texture and not much taste. You can sprinkle them on salads, oatmeal, yoghurt, add to baked goods, and to my personal favorite, a smoothie. Soaked in liquid and kept in the fridge, chia seeds expand to become almost pudding-like and in fact can be made into a delicious healthy pudding for breakfast or dessert .

Sarma Melngailis from the restaurant, Pure Food and Wine in New York City created this wonderful recipe in her book, Living Raw Food. I have adapted it slightly.

Chocolate Chia Pudding (serves 4 – 6)

1 cup chia seeds
3 cups nut milk, coconut or hemp milk
Sweetened to taste with stevia if desired
1 tsp vanilla – optional
1 – 2 TBS raw cocoa powder
Pinch of sea salt

Place the chia seeds, milk, stevia, cocoa and salt in a bowl (add vanilla if using) and stir well, so that there are no clumps and the chia seeds are coated in milk. Let sit at room temperature for 20 – 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate.

Please note – if you find that the cocoa is not stirring easily into the cold liquid, you may want to blend it into a small bit of the liquid first in a blender. Or, if not, put it in a large bowl and just keep on stirring it very quickly, and it will incorporate nicely.