The year 2010 saw the emergence of a South American staple -The Chia Seed, as the superfood of the moment. These little mottle coloured seeds have been intrinsic to South American culture for generations, dating back to the Aztecs and Mayans. They were consumed because their energy and strength propelling properties. In fact, the very word ‘Chia’ comes from the Mayan word for strength.
Chia seeds, primarily gained popularity owing to the high level nutrients that are packed into those tiny wondrous seeds. They are rich in calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants and a great addition to vegetarian or lactose-free diets. They are also believed to help weight loss, because of they are hydrophilic in nature; i.e. they have the ability to absorb 10-15 times their own weight, when soaked in a liquid, similar to basil seeds. I personally rely on a helping of chia seeds in the mornings, before heading to the gym, as they quickly boost energy levels without the feeling of any heaviness.
The seeds can be consumed either in their original form or even ground into a fine flour, but their consumption in the form of seeds is a rather popular choice. Chia seeds can be eaten dry by sprinkling them over cut fruit or salad, or you can add a spoon full to smoothies, milk, cereal or juices. Adding them to any liquid gives them that wonderful spongy gelatinous texture, which is rather fun to eat, I must admit.
Chia pudding, is a great concept that involves combining the seeds with milk, fruits and or grains to produce a more wholesome meal. The great thing about them is that, there are so many ways of making a chia pudding that you can customise it to your taste and preference.
After much trial and error I finally came up with a combination that works for me and one that I really enjoy eating. I’m not very fond of milk which is why I substitute regular milk with almond milk, because I enjoy the nutty flavour of it. I also mix in a spoonful of basil seeds along with the chia seeds which also swell up when immersed in any liquid. I add fresh fruits or a fruit compote depending on the kind of fruits I use. I usually make a compote if I’m using tart or sour fruits like I have in the recipe below. And lastly, I always add some kind of granola mix to add some much needed crunch to the otherwise soft and sticky pudding.
Here is the recipe for my chia and basil seed pudding with a tart fruit compote and a crunchy granola using cornflakes and nuts.
For the almond milk:
2 cups almonds
1 cup water
1 tbsp of honey (optional)
For the Pudding:
4 tsp chia seeds
2 tsp basil seeds
For the fruit compote:
1/4 cup strawberries
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
For the nutty crunch:
1/2 cup cornflakes
1 tbsp toasted quinoa
1 tbsp slivered almonds
1 tbsp slivered pistachios
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water
A pinch of salt
For the almond milk:
- Soak the almonds for 24-36 hours.
- Drain the water from the almonds and rinse them well under cold running water. Do not remove the skins.
- Combine the soaked almonds along with a cup of water (you can add a teaspoon of honey or sugar for some added sweetness) in a blender. Blitz the almonds and water on high speed until the almonds have reached a meal like texture. And you are left with a nutty milky liquid.
- Place a piece of muslin in a sieve and run the blended liquid through it, to get rid off any bits of ground almond.
- You can store the drained almond milk in a glass bottle for up to 3 days in a refrigerator.
For the fruit compote:
- Cut the apple, plums and strawberries into tiny bite-sized pieces, and place them in a heavy bottom sauce pan.
- Add the sugar and cinnamon along with 2 tbsp of water to the fruit and place the sauce pan on medium heat.
- Use a wooden spoon to combine all the ingredients well, and allow it to simmer on medium low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Once the fruits have broken down and the mixture has thickened, remove the sauce pan off the heat and transfer the compote into a glass bowl and set aside to cool down.
For the crunchy nutty granola:
- Combine equal parts of sugar and water in a deep sauce pan on medium heat, and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Once the mixture has achieved a syrup like consistency, turn the heat to low.
- Add your cornflakes, slivered almonds and pistachios along with some toasted quinoa and a pinch of salt to the syrup, use a wooden spoon to incorporate all the syrup into the dry ingredients.
- Continue to stir the granola mixture on medium high heat for about a minute, take it off the heat and transfer it onto a a plate. Use a fork to spread out to mixture so as to avoid the formation of any sugary clumps.
Assembling your pudding in mini jars:
- Spoon a tablespoon of chia seeds along with a teaspoon of basil seeds into each jar, and pour the almond milk over the seeds, leaving about a fourth of an inch from the top. Keep the jars aside for about 20-30 minutes allowing the seeds enough time to absorb the milk and develop a sticky gelatinous coating.
- Spoon over a generous helping of the previously prepared fruit compote onto your now stable pudding mixture of the seeds and almond milk.
- Finish it off with a a teaspoon of the nutty granola, and serve chilled.