Like many, I never encountered chia in an edible form prior to adopting a paleo approach to health and fitness. That’s right, I heard of Chia Pets but I never ate one!
Chia seeds are native to some regions of Mexico and Guatemala where they have been cultivated and consumed by cultures for thousands of years. They’re high in omega-3 fatty acids (ALA), and fibre and contain a host of other nutrients, including manganese and calcium.
I’ve been on the fence with Chia for a while now. When I first started eating Paleo, chia seeds were cautioned against because of certain issues with digestive impermeability. The thought was that the gelatinous membrane that forms around the seed after it’s been exposed to liquid may impair digestibility. It was also believed that they contained certain anti-nutrients that cause more harm than good. Of course, all of this stood in the face of massive media attention declaring Chia seeds as the ultimate ancient superfood.
More recently, a study demonstrated that milled chia seeds may be easier to digest than whole seeds (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22538527). In fact, the study showed that postmenopausal women who consumed 25 g of milled chia seeds per day for a period of seven weeks experienced significant increases in plasma ALA and EPA but not DPA and DHA. This is different from whole chia seeds, which may be more difficult to digest than the milled variety.
As far as taste goes they’re neutral if not bland, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it makes them very easy to manipulate in the kitchen. Start by soaking them overnight in a liquid of your choice. Then you can transform them into a parfait by layering with fruit purée or topping them with fresh fruit, nuts and seeds. The options are endless.
This recipe calls for soaking the seeds overnight in a bath of slightly sweetened almond-date milk so that they can get nice and plump. The next morning the pudding is transferred to individual bowls and topped with a medley of nuts, dates and seasonal fruit. You can get creative and use what you have but for this version I wanted the topping to reflect the pudding!
Like the Ginger-Beet Smoothie, I really like the Zwilling Double Wall Dessert Bowl for a chia pudding like this one. It looks as though the pudding is suspended in thin air! Very cool!
Give this recipe a go and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Almond-Date Chia Pudding
INGREDIENTS (serves 3-4)
¾ cup chia seeds – milled or whole
10 medjool dates – pits removed + plus extra for topping
750 ml unsweetened, unflavored almond milk – preferably homemade
nuts and seeds of choice (I went with almonds and pecans)
seasonal fruit of choice (I harvested my raspberry bush!)
- Blend almond milk and dates together until fully incorporated (approximately 2-3 minutes depending on strength of blender). Note: if your blender overheats, stop, wait and continue once it cools down.
- Transfer almond-date milk to a large mason jar or bowl and add 3/4 cup of chia seeds. Stir well to fully incorporate. Seal and refrigerate 6 hours to overnight.
- Assemble the pudding the next day by layering the chia pudding into the Zwilling Double Wall Dessert Bowl and topping with chopped dates, nuts and fresh fruit.