"Oh good lord .. this is not a pudding.. it IS rabbit droppings in a bowl of post nasal drip." - a blog commenter
I have been chia seed aware for some time now. Well I gather the craze began way back around 2009 I think, maybe later, I don't really know. About the same time as quinoa, maybe a little later. Really one cannot but be aware and I think there is no doubt about their health benefits.
A little while ago Coles featured a recipe for strawberry chia jam, which I thought intriguing and featured it in one of my oddments posts I think, so when today I opened the latest Woolworths Fresh Ideas magazine, and simultaneously downloaded the latest Coles magazine (I missed the paper copy), and saw two almost identical recipes for chia berry pots I thought this was the time to investigate. Maybe even have a go. They actually aren't that identical, they just look alike. The one on the left is the Coles version and uses almond and coconut milk as the base liquid. whereas the one on the right is actually an ad for Jalna yoghurt and therefore includes quite a lot of yoghurt and ordinary milk.
However, I was marginally worried about the tapioca look - what we used to call frogs spawn - of the chia mixture. Those tapioca puddings of school dinners were revolting and always made me gag, so I thought I would try and find the answer to my post title question. It took me a while to find the right search strategy - 'hate chia puddings' - if you are interested - because everything else I tried just brought up heaps and heaps of foodies raving about how wonderful they are - not just health wise, but also because of the divine taste. Just like ice cream said one. And they all looked so beautiful:
I'm not linking to any particular recipe - there are hundreds and hundreds on the net if you are interested, and even the ratio of liquid to seeds varies a bit. One said 1/4 cup of seeds to 1 cup of liquid and another said 1 to 6 parts. The liquid, by the way was almost always one of those pseudo milks, but I did also see lassi, kombucha - and yes even plain old milk mentioned. Mix these together with some sweetener - honey or maple syrup - leave overnight in the fridge and then tart it up in the morning with fruit, nuts, seeds, more maple syrup, yoghurt ... whatever. Most of them seemed to think it was that simple, but the warning signs were there:
"You must stir the mixture early on to prevent clumps from forming. After you initially mix it together, let the mixture rest for about 15 to 20 minutes. Once the seeds have begun to gel, stir again. Here’s why: As the chia seeds absorb moisture, they gel up and become somewhat sticky. If they stick together in a clump, they won’t plump up, and you’ll end up with a very disappointing clumpy-hard-but-wet mixture. So, just remember to stir!" Cookie and Kate
And I started to see comments from people who said their seeds didn't swell up - I have no answer to that one. But still the overall vibe was an enthusiastic embrace of 'my new favourite breakfast'.
As you have probably surmised by now I am naturally suspicious of all things 'healthy', even more of 'superfood' and chia is one of these. However at the same time I am also aware that I am probably being prejudicial and that really I should try it before criticising. Just like you shouldn't criticise a TV program unless you have seen it. That frog spawn look though was worrying, particularly when it was not really disguised by clever layering and artistic drips of honey - as in the Coles version at the top of the page.
And then I began to find dissenting voices. This picture is from Suzie the Foodie who as you can see threw hers down the sink - probably not the right thing to do - better in the compost surely? But she was not alone:
"When soaked in liquid, each chia seed develops a clear, slimy film, as if to protect itself from the foolish human who dares eat it. Together, these slime babies form a gelatinous mold that wiggles, jiggles and squelches with every touch of a spoon. Still, the seed within retains its crunch, resulting in what can only be described as chewy mucous. Although the substance is actually kind of mesmerizing to play with, it’s an absolute nightmare to eat." Bailey Bennett - Tasting Table
"if you eat this, you will have 1 million chia seeds in your teeth, and their delightful texture makes them prime for sticking to bowls. Your dishwasher doesn’t stand a chance." Kelsey The Left/Right Blog
So I think I'm right in feeling very nervous about the texture - and the slime. I am really not into slime. I don't mind spiders or snakes, but cannot abide slugs. I don't even like moisturiser very much.
Now there is advice about the texture:
"If you really can’t handle the texture, here’s a secret: After the chia pudding gels overnight, you can toss it in the blender and hit puree for a minute or so to turn it into a light and fluffy mousse." Rebecca Firkser - My Recipes
Which does indeed sound like a possibility, although Suzie the Foodie did try this and said:
"The texture of the seeds was still there. Disgusting!"
And just to top off all my misgivings off I found this:
"Eat chia seeds, but not too much. Take this pudding, for example: The chia seeds hydrate in the cashew cream, which is how they get all plump and silky. But if you were to, say, put dry chia seeds in your body, they’d soak up the moisture in your gut. So be safe; make chia pudding instead." healthyish
Silky sounds good doesn't it? Slimy doesn't but really it's the same thing. What about creamy?
Opinion does seem to confirm that they are a bit of a healthy food though, so perhaps just scatter a few over things every now and then. A few. But then again:
"A scrumptious salmon dinner with steamed broccoli or even a handful of walnuts gives you almost all of the same benefits as chia." Women's Health
And that sounds much more tempting. It's just one of those love/hate ingredients isn't it? Like coriander, eggplant, anchovies ...