Do you remember those little clay planters we all wanted when we were kids? They came in various shapes and sizes (the most popular was probably the little hedgehog) and were called Chia Pets? And if you watered the planter, green shoots of grass would come out and essentially decorate the top of your pet! The TV advert had that annoying tune: “Ch- Ch- Ch- CHIA!”. With every “Ch” the grass would grow a bit longer? Is the memory coming back now?
Well THOSE little green grasses were the plant that comes from the Chia Seed – now a lot more popular amongst hipsters and the millennial generation than for their planter-pet decorating capabilities!
Chia seeds are little black seeds that almost resemble poppy seeds. They are essentially tasteless, but packed with nutritional value, so much so that they have received super-food status recently among anyone and everyone in the health world.
These tiny seeds do live up to their hype – they are incredible. They originated from Mexico and Chia is the ancient Mayan word for “strength”. Runners and warriors suitably used them to fuel themselves. These days they are acceptable to use by anyone who wants to up the nutritional value of their meal! They are packed with fibre meaning they are great for digestion. These seeds, when mixed with liquid, swell up to become gelatinous – ending up with a texture much like our well loved sago. This texture is great for your gut and makes you feel fuller for longer – helping with weight and portion control.
Chia seeds are also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for brain and heart health. They also contain loads of antioxidants, which are great for protecting our cells against free radical damage (coming from stress or pollution for example) – they even have more antioxidants than the famous blueberry. The most incredible fact for us is that Chia seeds contain six times more calcium than milk! So they make an excellent substitute for calcium if you want to drink less milk or are lactose intolerant.
How do you use these little guys? There are SO many ways! You can add them directly to your smoothie (before blending), sprinkle them over your morning cereal or yogurt, add them to your loved banana bread recipe, or (our favourite way) make a Chia pudding! Chia pudding is an incredibly easy recipe to make and can be customized to your own tastes! Don’t enjoy cacao? Then rather add vanilla or even add your favourite fruit puree (mango puree works great!). You can mix this with yogurt and stewed dried fruit for a lovely traditional South African twist.
The best thing about cooking with Chia seeds is that a little goes a long way – because they swell up so much you really don’t need more than a few spoonful’s at a time making them incredibly cost effective. They are also great plant based thickeners and binders – commonly used as egg substitutes, in vegan baking recipes!
Chocolate Chia Pudding + Blueberry Compote
Enjoy for breakfast or as an after-dinner treat!
Serves 1 to 2
3 tbsp Capedry Chia seeds
2 scant tbsp raw cacao
1 cup almond milk / whole cow’s milk
Mix all the ingredients together (make sure all the cacao has dissolved). Allow to set in fridge for at least 4 hours. You can also blend all the ingredients together (you might need a bit more milk) to make a smooth chocolate pudding! Let set for the same amount of time to get the right texture.
Large handful frozen blueberries
1 tbsp water
Place the blueberries and water into a pan and let simmer on a low heat. Crush some of the berries to release sugars. Once the mixture has become slightly thicker, take off the heat and add 1/2 – 1 tsp honey (if you want it sweeter – can leave as is if not).
Spoon the compote onto the puddings and serve with some toasted coconut as garnish.