Small, good things: summer comfort

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Chia seeds. It’s hard not to think about it without imagining terracotta figurines of cute little animals or cultural celebrities (the Bobs – Ross and Marley; Jerry Garcia, Barack Obama, Donald Trump) sprouting tufts of adorably incongruous green “fur” . They’re up there with the Pet Rock as a pre-internet cultural meme and dubious marketing success.

To paraphrase HL Mencken, no one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses. But this column is generally not about bad taste. It’s a matter of good taste. But chia seeds?

Chia seeds are (unsurprisingly) the seeds of hispanic salvia, a flowering plant in the mint family native to Mexico and parts of South America. It has been cultivated as both food and medicine for over 4,000 years and was, along with corn and beans, the main cultural nutritional element of Mesoamerica, until Spanish rule virtually obliterated it. in a few centuries.

Cultivation took place on small farms in undesirable mountainous regions until Mexican independence revived native eating habits, especially in the south.

In the second half of the 20th century, the exceptional nutritional content and importance of chia came to light. The word “superfood” is used loosely, but chia certainly deserves the name. Just 1 ounce of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, impressive amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, and a long list of essential vitamins and minerals, all for 140 calories.

A little nutty in taste, they’re a great extra-nutritious raw addition to baked goods, smoothies, nut butters, jams, and cooked cereals (especially quinoa). Chia seeds have a special feature: they are hydrophilic (water-loving), that is, they absorb up to 12 times their weight in liquid when soaked.

Plus, when soaked, they puff up and develop a gelatinous coating and texture, similar to tapioca (which they play great with), which means they also soak up the flavors of whatever they’re in. are immersed. This makes it a great addition to beans. or vegetable salads to add a little extra protein (be sure to add extra dressing), but the most common use is in endless recipes for chia seed puddings, parfaits, and mousses that litter the Web.

Which brings us to the suggested recipe. Almond and coconut milks provide the liquid, non-dairy creaminess. I used honey here to avoid the cane sugar, which adds its own flavor. It is an excellent alternative to yoghurts for breakfast or afternoon tea. You can of course use other sweeteners or flavorings (here vanilla); just pay attention to the seed to liquid ratio. Almond milk and cider boiled with raisins and nuts? Coconut milk with ginger lime and mango? Why not.

Either way, it’s incredibly quick and easy to prepare, keeps for days, and provides guilt-free comfort, satisfaction, and sustenance. I’ve topped it here with blueberries and a quick raspberry compote (for an understated 4th of July theme), but as we enter the height of summer, a number of fresh fruit combinations will no doubt suggest other formulas.

Chia Seed Pudding

4 servings

  • 2-3 tbsp honey (or other sweetener of your choice)
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup toasted kasha (optional)
  • 1/4 tbsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • Salt

1. Use a whisk to combine the almond and coconut milk, honey and a pinch of salt in a large bowl (to hold a liter plus). Slowly sprinkle and whisk in the chia seeds (following the same procedure with the kasha, if using), making sure the seeds (and kasha) are evenly moisturized.

2. Let stand in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or until pudding has a rich, creamy texture. (I prefer to make this and let it sit in the fridge overnight, covered.) The pudding will keep for up to 3 days, but may need to be thinned with more almond or coconut milk as the seeds continue to absorb liquid.

3. Top with your favorite fresh fruit or compote, granola, nuts or flaked coconut. The photo shows blueberries, almonds and a quick raspberry-orange coulis.

Express raspberry-orange coulis

  • 1 pint of raspberries
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup raw sugar or other sweetener
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice (if using fresh oranges, save a few strips of zest)

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a steady boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool, removing the strips of orange zest. When cooked, coarsely mash any large fruits and strain through a few layers of cheesecloth, pressing out the last bit of pulp and avoiding the seeds. Coldness. Keep for a week, covered and refrigerated.

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