From chia pet to hot nutritional powerhouse in (only) a few decades, these curious little seeds can boost your morning energy with this savory pudding!
My first experience of chia seeds was their thick fur on little clay “pets” that were a rage. My mother grew one on her kitchen window sill. That was pretty much the only use I knew of at the time in our part of the world in New England. Certainly, no one thought of them as edible. Of course, in Mexico and Central America, chia has been grown for centuries by the Aztec and Incas, and long recognized as a dietary staple. It’s taken us a while to catch up, slowly over the decades from health-store rarity to supermarket easy.
Chia seeds are the unprocessed seeds of the plant Salvia hispanica. They are nutty in flavor and odd in behavior, able to absorb many times their weight in liquid, turning into little gel-like bulbs. The texture, after mixed with a liquid and allowed to set, is something between cherry tomato insides and tapioca pudding. There are lots of folks who like this, and many who think it is unpleasant. If you are among the latter, you don’t have to read any further than the nutritional information, perhaps you’ll give it a try for that reason only.
Use them in just about everything!
These little black and white seeds can be made into puddings, added to drinks to hydrate (think bubble tea), to baked goods such as muffins and biscuits, cakes or other sweets, ice pops, breakfast bars, pancakes, stir-fries, just about anything where the texture is either wanted or not noticed. They can even be mixed with water and used as an egg substitute.
There’s a reason these little seeds are not being consumed at a phenomenal rate. It’s hard to find a food that has more nutritional power in a little tablespoon than chia seeds.
Lots of fiber and protein
One tablespoon of chia seeds has tons of mostly soluble fiber and a good hit of protein. They also contain calcium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, iron, potassium, thiamin, niacin, and have abundant antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids and other phytonutrients. They are low on the glycemic index and are gluten free.
This food is used to improve digestion, to help regulate blood sugar, and may assist in weight loss as they help to make you feel full, although the jury is still out on this one!
Oatmeal aside, I like to make a little breakfast drink that is a non-alcoholic version of a Bloody Mary. I put in warm, anti-inflammatory spices of turmeric, cayenne, cumin, and cinnamon, as well as horseradish and ginger. Apple cider vinegar (the grandmother’s morning tonic), just for good measure, and some celery seeds and Worcester sauce to give the traditional Bloody Mary profile.
Why not add some of those magic chia seeds and get additional nutrition and a little fiber boost as well! This concoction is delicious, invigorating, and a really good start to the day. It might not be your cup of seeds in the morning, but think afternoon pick-me-up if not. I love the deliciously spicy flavor; it’s a true eye-opener.
I used a 1 cup of liquid to 4 tablespoons of seeds ratio to turn my drink into pudding, or a thick soup consistency. You can add less seeds if you want it more drinkable of course.
I used low-sodium tomato juice in this, but you can also use a vegetable/tomato drink.
Add the horseradish and cayenne at the lower end, mix well, and taste. Adjust for your own preference. Since I’m eating this with a spoon, I’ll add a few pumpkin seeds on top as well for a little crunch.
Chia Seed Virgin Mary Breakfast Pudding
1 pint low-sodium tomato juice
1 tbsp. prepared horseradish
2 tsp. freshly grated ginger OR
½ tsp. dried ginger
1/8 to ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. turmeric
1 to 2 tsp. Worcester Sauce
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Dash of hot sauce
Pinch of salt
Several grinds of fresh pepper
½ tsp. celery seeds
8 tbsp. chia seeds (1/2 cup)
Celery leaves to garnish
Pumpkin seeds to garnish
Combine everything and mix well with a whisk, adjusting the levels of horseradish and cayenne to your own liking.
Place into four ½ cup glasses or pudding dishes, cover, and refrigerate overnight, or for at least four hours.
Garnish with celery and a few crunchy seeds.
Nutritional information: One serving yields 165 calories, 11 g. fiber, 18 g. carbohydrates (net 7 g. carbs), 6 g. protein, Vitamin A (5%), Vitamin C (42%), calcium (180%), iron (8%), potassium 586 mg, fat 9 g. Calculations from myfitnesspal.com
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