July 30, 2013

It's Chia Pudding, Pet!

Remember chia pets? Chia seeds are sprouted on terra cotta animals and other shapes (Duck Dynasty's Willie is shown to the right) to form "hair" or "fur." They first came out in the 1970s and were more than likely the result of someone dropping a whole lotta acid.

Well apparently chia seeds, all on their own, are the newest craze. They're considered a super food (meaning they're nutrient dense). They're packed with omega-3 fatty acids, and contain lots of protein, fiber and antioxidents. To find out more about how awesome these little seeds are, check out this Super Seeds page.

Back in the beginning of July, we decided to put our son on a gluten free, casein free (GFCF) diet. He's had a runny nose ever since he got really sick two years ago and we're wondering if his stomach lining has never healed properly and he has a leaky gut. (I'll write more on leaky guts some day. It's really quite interesting and isn't really what you probably thought of when you first read the term.) I bought several cookbooks on Amazon, and checked out even more from the library, and I've been a cookbook reading queen for the past several weeks. I'd say the most important change we've made has nothing to do with removing gluten and casein from our diets. It seems like adding in more healthful foods (like lots and lots of veggies) has been the greatest boon. (And we were a pretty darn healthy family before. We grind our own whole grains, buy all organic produce, don't eat a lot of processed foods, etc. But as much as I knew veggies were important, they take time. Chopping time, mostly. And sometimes I just don't have the energy to chop. But that's where the blender comes in handy. More on that in another post also.)

Most of the books I've been looking through focus on an autism or ADHD diet (which is primarily gluten and casein free). Removing these two proteins from the diets of autistic kids has been found to make huge changes in how they interact with the world around them. It's like these kids have been imprisoned in a painful world and when they react people think they're just acting out, not that they're nutritionally screwed up inside. ... but more on that in another post. The key that I was talking about was veggies. And the cookbooks that focus most on veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds tend to be the vegan and raw cookbooks, which I've found the most fascinating in terms of recipes. The GFCF cook books are full of muffins and breads and pancakes and all sorts of crap I've been making all my life. Now I just need to make the same recipe with gluten free flours. But the raw and vegan cookbooks are full of things I've never seen or tried before. Suddenly a whole new world of cooking (or not) possibilities have opened up before me.

This chia pudding recipe is one of those delightful new recipes I've tried and found to be utterly delicious. Now that statement comes with a caveat. Between myself and my three children, one of my girls and I like the pudding. My son and other daughter ate a few bites and that was enough for them. So this clearly isn't a dish for everyone. But if you love tapioca pudding, then it's quite possible that you'll love this as well. And danged if this isn't literally the easiest pudding recipe I have ever come across in my life. So without further ado....

This recipe is from Going Raw: Everything You Need to Start Your Own Raw Food Diet & Lifestyle Revolution at Home (which is the same book I pulled the zucchini hummus recipe from that I posted about recently). I checked this book out from the library, but I think I'm going to have to go buy myself a copy. There are sooo many recipes in here I want to try.

1/3 cup (50 g) chia seeds
2 cups (475 ml) nut milk (There's instructions to make your own nut milk given in the book. But I just used Blue Diamond's Almond Breeze almond milk.)
2 tablespoons (40 g) agave nectar or honey, or a pinch of stevia
dash of cinnamon for garnish (optional)

Throw the seeds, sweetener, and nut milk into a container. (I used a glass jar with a lid.) Stir/shake the mixture and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Now stir/shake it again and throw it into the refrigerator. Leave it there for 4 hours at a minimum. Garnish with cinnamon when you eat it. It'll keep for 3 days in the fridge (if it's not all gobbled up before then).

That's it. I threw everything into a jar, gave it a shake, went and did something else, came back and shook it again, threw it in the fridge and had chia pudding the next morning. Viola!

The texture is creamy and a tad bit slimy (like tapioca can be). You have to chew the seeds. I guess you could just swallow them, but I'll take a mouthful and spend several minutes chewing. I figure that gets me to eat less in the long run because I spent so much time chewing I have less time to keep stuffing my face. And I like the flavor as it's chewed.

Apparently these little seeds soak the water up like crazy, so it's hydrating to eat them once they've been soaked in liquid for 4 hours. But according to Judita Wignall, the author of the cookbook, you don't want to eat them straight or they'll actually suck the water out of you. (OK, she just said "dehydrate" but that sounds boring. It's when the water is sucked from your cells that you become a desiccated mummy and show up in a good scifi flick, right? So if you don't want to be a mummy in a horror/scifi episode of Fringe or something, soak the seeds before you eat them, K?)