The seed that nourished the Maya

| 01 May 2012 | 01:45

There’s a tiny ancient seed that’s making a huge comeback.

Chia seeds, once a food staple of the Mayan and Aztec people, have earned a coveted spot on the list of superfoods. They’re a complete source of omega- 3 fatty acids and rich in soluble fiber and plant based protein. Until recently they were known only as the magic seed hidden away in the Chia Pet, that cute terra cotta icon of the ‘70’s.

After weeks of considering bags of seeds and researching their unique properties, I decided to see what all the hype was about. Each seed holds twelve times its weight in water, turns gelatinous when submerged in liquid and has just a hint of nuttiness, making it an ideal thickener and base for raw pudding. I made three batches of pudding: a silky cashew, which turned out to be my favorite, and versions with almond and coconut milk.

To make your own recipe, gather lidded jars, varieties of non-dairy milk, flavoring or extract, citrus zest and black or white chia seeds. If you aren’t fond of black specks in your food, opt for the white seeds. I prefer the earthy appearance of the black ones. Chia pudding shouldn’t be sugary, so use just a tablespoon or two of agave nectar or other natural sweetener. Load each jar with different combinations of ingredients, shake a few times, refrigerate, and a creamy, dense pudding will be ready to enjoy in a few hours. Encourage any budding sous chefs to join in the kitchen chemistry. They’ll have fun shaking the jars and watching the transformation.

Top your chia pudding with juicy, seasonal fruit for an organic treat – nourishing, refreshing and raw.

Raw Cashew Chia Pudding Serves six to eight

Ingredients 1 cup raw, unsalted cashew nuts

4 cups water ½ teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons agave nectar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup organic chia seeds (black or white)

Fresh seasonal fruit Directions

Place cashews in a bowl, cover with cold water and refrigerate overnight.

Drain cashews and place in a blender with water. Blend on high speed until completely smooth. Pour cashew milk into a jar and add zest, agave and vanilla. Cover and shake until mixed.

Add chia seeds and shake vigorously. Place in the refrigerator and shake once or twice during the next hour. The pudding will be thick and ready to eat in 3 to 4 hours.

Top with fresh fruit