Pretty much unheard of until a few years ago, chia seeds have recently shot to stardom. You will find them on smoothie menus, packed into energy bars and even in recipes from the new champions of healthy eating – the Hemsley sisters, Ella Woodward and Madeleine Shaw are all advocates of the small black and white seed.
But why all the fuss? The chia plant, from the mint family and native to Central America, gets its name from the Mayan word meaning “strength” and the tiny seeds pack a punch and are said to have fuelled Aztec warriors in battle. Today they are touted by athletes as an endurance enhancing superfood.
Chia seeds have very high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, fibre and protein; plus they contain all nine essential amino acids our bodies need to build muscle. So not only are they top nutrition (especially for people who don’t like to eat too much meat), chia seeds can also help reduce inflammation and joint pain, and speed up recovery after exercise.
But maybe the most interesting thing about the chia seed is that when it is soaked in liquid it will swell to more than 10 times its size forming a kind of gel. This is quite exciting, especially when the liquid in question is fruit juice or almond milk creating an instant delicious and nutritious chia pudding… see below! But more importantly when it comes to your workout, the gel-forming action slows down the conversion of carbohydrates into energy, which means your body will be fuelled for longer. The swelling seeds also mean your body should feel fuller for longer… which is great if your trying to cut out mid-morning munchies or 3pm carb-cravings.
Still not convinced? Chia seeds are gluten free, they can often be used instead of egg as a low cholesterol alternative, they have a shelf life of several years and they don’t really taste of much… a little bit nutty maybe. We share with you Madeline Shaw’s Chia Seed Pudding with Poached Clementines recipe. Madeleine says: “Clementines for me are such a festive flavour. The cinnamon and cardamom mixed in with the sweet clementines is so warming and Christmassy.
This one is actually really good for the day after a Christmas party (when maybe you’ve had a bit too much to drink and you’re feeling hungover) because chia seeds really help to hydrate your body!”
To make the chia pudding: Mix the milk, honey, vanilla pods, cardamom, cinnamon together then pour in the chia seeds and stir well for 15 minutes until the chia seeds soak up and it turns gelatinous. Place in the fridge to set.
To poach the clementines heat the clementine juice, zest, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla for a few minutes then add the clementine’s pieces from three clementine’s, poach for 15 minutes.
Serve the chia pudding topped with a few tbsp. of poached clementines.