Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Chia Seed goodness - for breakfast or dessert

  It was a warm Summer's morning when I had my first encounter with Chia seeds. Like so many of my favorite foods, I love the versatility and the simplicity of using Chia seeds. I was told they were very hydrating, perfect for a hot Summers day. I was working long hours in a Juice bar/cafe and I needed
something quick and easy in my ten minute break. So I soaked a generous handful of cashew nuts and approximately 2 tbs chia seeds in water, directly in a blender, for about 10 minutes.

Then I added a whole sweet mango and blended together this creamy yet refreshing smoothie. Kylie, one of the Naturopaths from work in the Health food Store part of the business, would share this ritual with me many times. It was only fair as she introduced me to these divine little seeds in the first place. This became my daily staple for the next few weeks through Summer, along with many many combinations I played around with over the Summer months.

Every where I went for dinners or brunches with friends, I brought some new 'favorite' combination I was into at the time. I even made a Mango, Pineapple, Blueberry & Lime Chia for the builders working on our house that Summer - who but them would benefit greatly for remaining hydrated. They took one look at it and were a bit hesitant at first but then Caspar insisted (as he does for those of you who know him) and they all tried it. They exclaimed that it was 'good, really good' and I came home from work to an empty bowl! I have introduced Chia seeds to many people and want to continue to do so.

Really you can substitute the fruits with any seasonal fruit combination. I always have lots of fresh fruit, some dried fruit for a chewy texture, some sort of zing – lemon, lime, orange or rosewater (or vanilla) some sort of sweetener – you choose . I also add the odd random variation – cinnamon, nutmeg, fresh ginger, coconut milk, and the list is endless.

Please note: It's winter and I live in a sub-tropical part of Australia and these are the fruits we have in season right now. The papaya's and passionfruits come from my garden and so does the lemons. The pineapples have come from Queensland - the tropics in the North Eastern part of Australia, not quite seasonal here but I wanted to treat the retreat goers that I catered for a couple of weeks ago.Simply substitute the seasonal fruits you have available to you. See the recipes below I prepared for them over a 5 day retreat. 

Recently for a retreat for facilitators Andrew Barnes and Leyolah's I made the following 'Chia's' for breakfast. This blog is dedicated to this happy crew that I had the pleasure of catering for. Enjoy guys!

Below are a few of my recent favorites.

Dragon Fruit, Pineapple & Cranberry - see photo above
Makes 6-8 breakfast bowls

1 small to medium pineapple, diced (approx 2 cups diced)
1 cup passion fruit pulp (6-7 medium sized passionfruits)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup maple syrup or agave (3/4 cup if you are making it for a dessert)
1/4 cup rosewater*optional
1/2 cup lemon or lime or lemonade fruit juice
2x medium sized dragon fruits- one diced & one for blending
11/2 cups filtered water

Firstly, soak the chia seeds in 1 1/2 cups water. When you first add the water stir at the same time to ensure no lumps are formed and that the chia seeds are fully submerged. The chia seeds can easily clump together but if you stir it to begin with you are usually fine. Watch in the first 5 minutes how thirsty these seeds are. It will start to thicken – don't leave the chia at this point, stay with it and continue to stir as it absorbs the water. 

You can leave it for 20 minutes or so while you chop up the fruit (or quickly check your emails). Remember you still have liquid to add, the lemon or lime juice, the maple or agave syrup and the rosewater.

After about 15-20 minutes you'll notice that it has drunk up all the liquid and become 'ploppy' again. Don't worry as the other liquid components will help to smooth it out again. You can always add more water later if needed but you can't take it away.

You can see why they are so hydrating, they have drunk in so much liquid! I love the way you start with a little cup and end up with a huge bowl full to feed seven or eight people! On this retreat – I used 1kg and it fed 36 hungry people for breakfast! You may think $20 per kg (approximately) seems expensive but if you think of it as one months worth of breakfasts it works out to be less than a dollar per day! Of course you need to add the fruit, lemon or lime juice and sweetener but you see where I'm headed. Cheap, nutritious and delicious!

Anyway the next step is to blend one of the dragon fruits in the blender with the lemon juice and maple syrup. Add this to the mix and stir thoroughly. Then add all your fruit including the dried fruit. Allow it to swell and gradually thicken. It takes approximately one hour from start to finish. You can eat it sooner but it may be quite sloppy or drinkable.

I like to allow an hour to really allow the chia seeds to do their thing. I want them full of liquid so each little seed keeps me fully hydrated.

Here's another couple of variations:

Winter Lime and Spice Chia
Makes = 6-8 breakfast bowls

1/2 cup chia seeds (white or black chia seeds)
1x Pear, diced
1x Apple, diced
2 tsp Cinnamon
3/4 cup coconut cream*
1/2 cup sultana or currents
1/4 cup goji berries
1/2 cup lime juice (1-2 limes depending on how juicy they are)
1/2 cup maple syrup or agave
1 1/2 cups filtered water

Same method as above, beginning with your filtered water and then add the fruits and all the flavours.
Please note: I usually blender the coconut cream in a blender to emulsify the coconut 'fat' and 'water'. It also aerates it and it becomes a lovely texture. Then I add it to the mix!

Tropical Chia
Makes 6-8 breakfast bowls

 1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 medium size pineapple, diced
1x medium size red papaya, diced
1 cup passionfruit pulp (approximately 6-7 medium passionfruits)
1 cup coconut cream*
3/4 cup Lime juice (3-4 limes depends how juicy they are?)
1/2 cup maple syrup or agave for a breakfast but maybe 3/4 cup for a dessert - I'm a sweet tooth!
1 tbs vanilla paste (or good quality essence)
1/2 cup currents
1 1/2 cups filtered water

** Use some lovely Star fruit to garnish if you have access to some.

* For a raw food version of coconut milk, take one or two young coconuts - ones that still have the soft flesh inside and strain the coconut water and scoop out the soft flesh. Blend together until you have coconut 'mylk'. Use the same quantities as the tinned coconut milk/cream

Tip: Make up these larger quantities of chia and eat over the next few days for breakfast or dessert. Saves on time and chia swells lovely over night.

1 comment:

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