In recent years, there has been quite an interest in chia. One would think that this is a new food discovery. In fact, the chia seed has been appreciated and cultivated for hundreds of years in Central America. It’s virtues have been recognized and favored by the ancient Maya’s and Aztecs as a superfood. The chia seeds are harvested from a flowering plant related to the mint family. The name Chia is the Aztec word for strength.
Chia seeds (Saliva Hispanica )
These little dry seeds pack a powerful punch of antioxidants. They are what you would call “small but mighty” in stature. Some of the properties purported that are that they help to lower the risk of heart disease as well as aiding in the reduction of chronic inflammation. The tiny wonder seeds vary in color from black to grey or white. They are rich in proteins, omega-3, iron and antioxidants. Although they are high in carbs, they turn into fiber, so there is little guilt associated with consuming them. The seeds are crunchy on their own, and can be added to salads, cereals, smoothies, juices and yoghurt.
Once the seeds are mixed with a liquid, they begin to absorb the water and become gelatinous. The seeds are capable of absorbing up to 10 times their size in liquid. They are similar to the tapioca balls, but are softer and more gel like in texture. The chia has no real taste of its own and easily absorbs the flavors of whatever ingredients are more apparent in the preparation. Chia seeds can also be used to thicken sauces and as a substitute for eggs, due to the gelatinous nature (much like an egg white), which emerges when mixed with water.
Some years ago, chia seeds were probably only found in health stores. Now, you can easily find chia seeds in most supermarket alongside the healthy ingredients and grains.
I love Chia pudding and decided to try making it with coconut milk as I absolutely adore all things coconut flavored. I used coconut milk as well as the coconut cream and almond milk to make it a little less rich. The coconut essence is a nice touch, but you can use just vanilla if you don’t have any in hand. The pinch of salt is important. I find it really balances the sweetens nicely. It’s really that… a pinch. The nutmeg is a lovely flavoring as well in this pudding. I also advise you to taste for sweetness before adding the honey or agave. I prefer it a tad sweeter, so I like the honey addition.
The choice of fruit is up to you and whatever is seasonal. I have guavas growing in my yard at the moment and mangos are still available here in Haïti. It’s almost the end of the season, so I like to use them whenever I can. The kiwi is a really nice addition and not only is it pretty but it’s also delicious. The toasted coconut sprinkles are wonderful and I love the crunch. I make them by grating fresh coconut, then browning them in a fry pan on low heat with brown sugar and cinnamon. Its labor intensive, but I like to have them in hand for sprinkling on all types of baked goods and granola. You can use some desiccated coconut if you’d like that tropical feel.
I hope you try this recipe. It’s so easy and so delicious. I like it for breakfast as I make it the evening before and then just put it all together with fresh fruit the next morning. It’s almost so decadent that you may feel like you’re having dessert for breakfast, when in fact you’re having a highly nutritious bowl of guilt-free goodness.
Tropical Coconut Chia Pudding
Makes 3 servings
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp coconut extract* optional ( if unavailable, increase vanilla extract to 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp honey or agave
A pinch freshly grated nutmeg
In a bowl, mix almond and coconut milk together. Add the vanilla essence, salt, honey and nutmeg. Mix everything together well. Add the chia seeds to the liquid and stir to combine. The mixture will seem very liquid, but will absorb during the resting period. Pour into a covered bowl and refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours.
Chia pudding set overnight
Tropical Fruit additions:
Toasted coconut chips, fresh shredded coconut or desiccated coconut
Slice fresh fruit into small cubes. In a pretty glass, layer the fruit and chia pudding alternating layers. Top with fruit and coconut shreds or chips.
You may use any of your favorite fresh fruit combinations for the chia pudding accompaniment. Other great fruit additions are strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and peaches.