There are a whole lot of healthy reasons to love the chia seed, the tiny little seed widely used throughout Central and South America. It sustained the Mayan and Aztec cultures for centuries and no wonder. The chia seed is an excellent source of pure, vegan protein; it's a fiber-rich food, which can reduce cholesterol; it contains healthy omega-fatty acids crucial for brain and heart function as well as for healthy hair and skin; it's super hydrating, too, absorbing 12 times its weight in liquid; and it contains potent plant antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the signs of aging and may even slow the growth of some cancer cells.
Pretty amazing for a tiny flea-sized seed, right?
But what's perhaps even more exciting about chia is just how easy it is to turn it into a fully satisfying meal, especially when resources are extremely limited.
By simply hydrating the chia seed, you have yourself a filling food full of nutrients and flavor. I practically survived solely on chia seeds this last trip to Burning Man—the festival held in the middle of Nevada's Black Rock Desert where resources are limited and often hard to see through the thick, whiteout dust storms.
Making chia porridge every morning kept me feeling full—and hydrated (remember how chia seeds soak up liquid, this is important in the desert!), and it was so simple to make, too.
There are lots of fantastic recipes that include chia seeds, but if you're new to them, the porridge may be a great starting point, especially if you're a fan of tapioca. When the chia seeds get wet, they plump up (and get a little slimy) like tapioca pearls. (So, yes, if you're thinking of turning this recipe into a pudding rather than a porridge, you can do that too. Add more milk than water and up your sweetener by another tablespoon or two. For good measure, also add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and omit the superfoods.)
Superfood Chia Porridge Recipe
1/2 cup white or black chia seeds (note you can grind them or buy milled chia seeds if you want a smoother porridge, but I recommend leaving them whole, like tapioca.)
1 cup pure spring water
¼ cup nondairy milk of your choice
1 teaspoon honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup
pinch of salt
A tablespoon or two of any of the following: incan berries, mulberries, cacao nibs, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, goji berries, almonds, hemp seeds
In a large ceramic or glass bowl, add chia seeds and water. Start to stir right away to avoid clumping and stir frequently.
Mix in the sweetener, salt, and nondairy milk.
Give it a good mix and let sit for a few minutes. Stir again. If the seeds seem to have absorbed all the liquid but are not quite as plump as you like, slowly add bits more water.
Mix in your superfoods.
Serve as is or add in fresh, seasonal fruits, serve over yogurt, or add to your favorite oatmeal recipe.
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