Saturday, October 1, 2011

Chia smoothies

 Happy Vegan MoFo! (that's MOnth of FOod). To kick it off, here's a chia smoothie...

Until a few months ago, I had never heard of Chia seeds. If you would have said "Chia..", I would have said, "pet." But, apparently, they are all the rage in the vegan blogging world. So, since everyone else was jumping off the bridge, I thought I would too.

So here's my first try using Chia seeds, inspired by this recipe from HappierHealthierJeffie and a little bit from posts on Running with Spoons.

  • 1 scoop chocolate Spirutein
  • 1 cup vanilla unsweetened almond or other non-dairy milk (I like Trader Joe's almond milk best! or Silk lowfat vanilla soymilk)
  • 1 frozen banana 
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
    Blend to enjoy!

    So.... how did it taste? Pretty much just like it would without the seeds, but a little thicker. I also really liked using the frozen banana - it's a nice way to get added thickness and coldness, without using ice (which never blends fully in my not-so-great blender).

    It seemed like most of my chia seeds ended up on the side of the blender or my cup... after looking up some information online (ummm, AFTER making and drinking my smoothie), I realized that perhaps it's best to soak the chia seeds first. Since I was only using 1 Tbsp of the seeds, it's fine to do as above, but it seems it's recommended to drink water if you are having unsoaked chia seeds, since they can absorb water within your body, which could lead to dehydration (after reading this, I ran to my Brita). Next time, I think I will let the chia seeds sit in the milk for a little while, or else soak them in water for 15 minutes, whisk, and use the resulting "chia gel" - chia seeds soak up to 9 times their weight in water.

    An update: when I did this the next day, it worked much better! It's also just kind of cool to see the gel form and the tiny little seeds transform. Using the gel makes the consistency of the smoothie better as well. I put 1 Tbsp of chia seeds in a small bowl and added enough water to cover them. I stirred a little bit, and 15 minutes later, voilà! Gel!

    Chia gel

    Alternate smoothie flavor versions:
    • Fig-a-licious: sub a few ice cubes and 1 chopped fig for the banana. This tatstes a little like a fig newton, and is slightly lower in calories than using the bannana. 
    • Fresh fruit: blueberries and strawberries also go well with the Spiru-tein powder.
    • Other Spiru-tein flavors: (Spiru-tein is just a protein powder) they have 20 different flavors, but the easiest to find are usually (in addition to the chocolate) vanilla, banana, tropical fruit, and strawberry. I've only tried vanilla, tropical fruit, and chocolate; I think using something fairly neutral is good bc it gives you more options for mix-ins with fresh fruit, but the cookies and cream and cookie dough flavors do sound a little enticing!
    Chia seed information:
    They call chia seeds the "Aztec superfood," and the nutritional benefits list of these seeds is long- they are high in fiber, omega-3s, protein, and calcium. They are also reported to control appetite and sugar levels, keep you hydrated (that is, when soaked), and aid endurance. That's one powerful little seed!

    In addition to smoothies, chia seeds can be added into oatmeal, or the chia gel could be used in baked goods. They seem to be a great way to get additional nutrients, especially if you are on a diet that prevents you from getting these things from other natural sources.

    Chia seeds soaked in water: chia gel

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