Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chia seed parfait

Ch-ch-chia! I recently discovered that chia seeds are edible and incredible, and not just for Chia Pets, those clay pot designs that sprout "hair." Chia seeds have become one of my favorite foods. Packed inside them is all kinds of healthy stuff (protein, omega-3 oil, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and calcium) but the thing I like best about them is they are good for your digestive tract.

Anyone with digestive issues might want to give them a try. They contain 90 percent soluble fiber which aids in digestion. I've had a slow digestive system for many years but since I started eating chia seeds, my stomach actually empties instead of food hanging around for hours and hours.

Some other benefits: the seeds provide energy, improve hydration, lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease, stabilize blood sugar, and provide the daily requirement for fiber and vitamins.

Another advantage is the seeds form a gel when added to water and are allowed to sit for 30 minutes. This property of the seeds provides all kinds of culinary opportunities because you can use them to thicken liquids or batters, and they really have no taste of their own. You can sprinkle them on cereal, oatmeal, salads, smoothies or yogurt, or mix them in muffin or other baked recipes.

My favorite recipe for chia seeds is chia seed pudding, which is basically like tapioca pudding with chia seeds doing the thickening. You can make the basic chia seed pudding or get fancy and try a parfait, pictured below, or add shredded coconut, whipped topping or fresh fruit. It's all good, even for someone on the anti-candida diet, like myself. I just use liquid, alcohol-free stevia as a sweetener.

Basic Chia Seed Pudding


2 T. chia seeds

1/3 to 1/2 cup liquid of your choice: plain or flavored soy, rice, hemp or other milk

1-2 tsp. agave nectar or 5-7 drops of stevia liquid

Options: add 2 tsp. carob powder or cocoa powder, pumpkin puree.


Place the chia seeds in a container and add the liquid. Stir well to submerge most of the seeds. Allow to sit 20-30 minutes but continue stirring every 5-10 minutes. Stir again before eating.

Tips: You can mix up the chia and liquid and allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator. I also found that heating your liquid before adding the chia speeds up the thickening process.

To make a parfait: prepare vanilla chia seed pudding, and carob or chocolate chia seed pudding and layer. Sprinkle shredded unsweetened coconut between layers. Ch-ch-chialicious!

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