Sunday 8 June 2014

Coconut, Mango & Lime Chia Pudding and Running Race for Life

Chia seeds are quite new to me. I’ve seen them used a lot on American blogs, and have just started to hear whispers of chia seeds being used in specialist breads in the UK, but as yet they are relatively unknown and unused.

Chia seeds are quite unique in that they have the ability to swell up, and thicken liquids into gels and gums without any heating. The seeds look like pale grey sesame seeds, but are crisp and crunchy in such a way that they give a little ‘pop’ when you bite into them. They can be eaten in their raw state sprinkled on top of salads or cereal, as you would other seeds, or, their unique thickening abilities can be harnessed are used to create different tastes and textures in recipes.

They are also a bit of a ‘superfood.’ Chia is an ancient seed that has more Omega 3 ALA (19.3g/100g) and dietary fibre (37.5g/100g) than any other natural food. It is also a great source of protein (20.4g/100g) and other antioxidants. I was persuaded to try it as I have been trying to eat more protein recently as I’ve been training for taking part in the Race for Life event, that I ran this morning!

I was inspired to try creating a chia seed pudding after seeing a recipe on the fantastic blog Not Quite Nigella. I was intrigued at how these tiny crunchy seeds could create a thick almost porridge-like pudding. I had a very ripe mango in the fridge and decided to puree some to stir into my chia pudding to flavour it. To enhance the tropical feel I used coconut milk instead of regular milk and added a little lime zest. The coconut milk was the kind you can not buy in cartons from the supermarkets for pouring on your breakfast cereal, not the thick kind in tins used in curries.

I was amazed that even as I was stirring the ingredient together in a bowl I could feel the texture starting to thicken, you don’t even need to crush the seeds. I set the pudding in the fridge for a few hours before taking another peak. It had completely thickened up and was sturdy enough to support the weight of a small spoon when placed upright into the bowl!

I feared I may have made it too thick, but it turned out to still be soft and spoonable. The seeds had swollen in such a way that they now resembled a cross between quinoa and tapioca. They had a gummy, almost gelatinous outer layer with a crisp seed encased in the middle. It really was a most unique texture. Soft and granular with the crunchy popping seeds. The closest thing I can relate it to it tapioca pudding. If you love tapioca you’d love chia pudding, if that frog spawn texture is not your thing, then you probably won’t be a fan.

The flavours of the coconut, mango and lime worked really well together, giving it a tropical edge. It wasn’t too sweet and could easily be eaten for breakfast rather than a dessert if desired – something I know some people already do. It’s a shame it’s grey coloured, as I found that slightly detracted from its overall appearance.

I loved the novel experience of eating the chia pudding, but I did find the texture a little odd, personally I’m not a big fan of tapioca and this was a little too similar. I do love the pop and crispness of the seeds themselves though, so will try baking them into a cake or some biscuits to see how they turn out. They are worth eating for their nutrition value alone and I’m sure some clever people will be able to create some amazing foodie creations with chia given their unique thickening abilities. I can see chia becoming more and more popular.

Have you tried chia pudding or chia seeds? If so, what’s your favourite way to eat it?

Coconut, Mango & Lime Chia Pudding
(Inspiration taken from Not Quite Nigella blog)
½ large mango
30g chia seeds
1 tbsp agave or honey
Grated zest 1 lime
110ml coconut milk (the kind sold in cartons for adding to your breakfast, not the thick kind used in curries)

Remove the flesh from the mango and put into a small food processor. Blitz until a rough puree is formed, a few chunks are fine.
Pour the mango puree into a bowl and stir in the chia seeds, agave syrup and half the grated lime zest.
Stir in the coconut milk, mixing for 30 seconds until the mix starts to thicken slightly and a few bubbles appear.
Cover the top of the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge to set. Anything from 3 hours to overnight is fine.
Once thick and set, divide the pudding between serving bowls or glasses, top with a little extra diced mango and a sprinkle of lime zest.
Eat and enjoy
Makes 1 – 2 generous portions

As mentioned briefly above, today I also took part in the 5k Race for Life event in aid of Cancer Research UK. Myself and 10 other women who are all part of the Wonderful Women group I belong to, decided to get together and run the course to raise money. I’ve spent the last 3 months trying to get fitter on the treadmill at the gym and until this morning had only managed to get to 4K without having to stop for a rest.
We all met at Meadowhall (a big shopping centre in Sheffield where the race began) this morning at 9:30am where we, along with thousands of other women all dressed in pink, set off for the run.

I am delighted to say I did it! I ran the course and finished in 31 minutes, 4 seconds. A personal best. It was a lovely sunny day and the atmosphere was fantastic with people cheering us one. It’s not only made me fitter, but we’ve raised lots of money for a great charity and all got a medal at the end to show for it.


The Caked Crusader said...

Not experienced chia seeds yet - shame about the grey colour but I'd still give them a go!

Gluten Free Alchemist said...

I have used chia as an alternative to xanthan gum, but not tried them in their own right. This looks really interesting. Must try it. I wonder if you added a bit of raspberry or other fruit powder whether it would make the colour more appealing?

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ooh yay you tried it Katie! So glad that you did and I know what you mean-I could see it get thicker so quickly. A reader actually had hers go thick within about 20 minutes! :o Thanks so much for the shoutout! :D

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ooh yay you tried it Katie! So glad that you did and I know what you mean-I could see it get thicker so quickly. A reader actually had hers go thick within about 20 minutes! :o Thanks so much for the shoutout! :D

Johanna GGG said...

onya for the run - am impressed!

Wish I could say that I love chia pudding but am no fan of frogspawn. I have used chia seeds a lot in smoothies and also in baking bread (I tried adding chia seeds and water and then found it better just to add chia seeds to a bread recipe without water - I think they are good for the texture of the crust as well as that I enjoy their texture in the bread - am sure they would work well in cakes and muesli - good luck with experiments

Elle said...

5K! Impressive and for such a good cause. Congratulations Katie!
Haven not used chia seeds yet. Am of the generation that had to put up with chia pets (clay figures that were soaked in water and then had chia seeds applied. You kept them damp, the chia seeds sprouted and were sort of like green hair on the 'pet'. Seems to have led to my having no respect at all for chia seeds. :)

Choclette said...

Well done Katie for running, that's quite an achievement. I use chai seeds in smoothies all the time and have used it in baking a bit too, but I was never a fan of tapioca, so although I love your flavours, I'm not sure this one is for me.