Chia, once a common household pet, is now gaining popularity for its dense nutritional value and health benefits. Chia seeds come from the ancient plant, Salvia Hispanica, and their use and cultivation date back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. Chia seeds the leading plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and are also a rich source of protein, fiber, calcium, phosphorus and manganese. Chia boasts an impressive ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s and omega-9s, making it an ideal source for the body to obtain all those healthy omega-3 fatty acids without overloading on omega 6s and 9s that are prevalent in many fat sources. Fish oils are also very high in omega-3s, however with the concern of high mercury levels in fish, chia can provide an excellent plant based alternative. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that cannot be manufactured by the body and are thus considered an essential fatty acid. Research has shown them to play a beneficial role in health issues ranging from heart health and cardiovascular disease to inflammation and improved cognitive health.
Chia seeds are also very versatile in there their culinary applications. They can be sprinkled on cereals, added to smoothies or soups, or made into a pudding such as this. They, like flax seeds, make an excellent egg replacer. When mixed with liquid, they form a thick gel that works as an excellent binder in baking. Their gelatinous quality and high fiber content make chia seeds great digestive aids. Several studies have also linked the addition of chia to the diet with weight loss. These beautiful little seeds absorb 12 times their weight in water, thus expanding during digestion, leaving you feeling full and satisfied.
Along with the garam masala, came this wonderful Masala Chia tea as a gift from my travel happy friend. In this recipe, I steep the chai in almond milk and then mix it with the chia seeds to make an aromatic and antioxidant loaded pudding. The texture of chia pudding can take a little getting used to, I find adding fresh fruit and nuts complements the texture and adds a contrast of crunch to the pudding.
- 2 cups organic unsweetened almond milk
- ¼ c chai tea (or about 4 tea bags)
- ⅓ cup chia seeds
- ¼ cup agave
- 1 t vanilla
Bring almond milk to a simmer, turn off heat and add tea. Allow tea to steep for 4 minutes. Strain almond milk (or remove tea bags) and place in a medium sized bowl. Add remaining ingredients, mix and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve with nuts and fruit.
If you’d prefer a creamy, unified texture, just place all ingredients in the blender after mixing and then chill for several hours or overnight.