Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Reality check on chia (and other food fads): you're not going to get thinner, more gorgeous, at peace, glowing skin, supple feet, or whatever else product marketers have been telling you by over-dosing on any one or two foods. The only way to achieve any of the above goals (and more) is to work hard to get where you want to be. That means being active but more importantly, eating a large variety of foods, not excluding foods on a whim (gluten-free is another trend but unless you're truly gluten-sensitive or have celiac, you're doing yourself a disservice by eating the guar gum, xanthan gum and whatever else is in gluten-free goods). All grains are good in moderation - they're heavy on the stomach so instead of cutting out an entire group of grains to feel light, simply reduce the frequency with which you consume grains. That way you'll feel light and satisfied. And satisfaction from meals is important to happiness and mental well-being.

Additionally, calm down. Before you start going on a quinoa binge because someone told you it's a complete protein etc. etc., check your facts. Know what a complete protein is really. Rice and beans have been an ancient combination that makes a complete protein. Way before quinoa arrived. It's fine to eat it but there's no need to go nuts and start replacing everything with quinoa. I don't like quinoa and I don't care how great it is, I'll find something else I like. Like millet. Which even now is a part of many cultures world-wide, including Indian. But even so, I know heaps of Indian people who wouldn't dream about eating millet but they worship quinoa. It's silly. No one will give anyone a prize for going overboard on food trends! Eat normally.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is so devoid of nutrition and has resulted in such an unhealthy population that food fads with tall claims work in the US. People are so eager to get their health back that they will spend a lot of money on so-called superfoods to get the same benefits they could get from eating readily available natural and whole foods. Because there's no commonplace system to educate people on how to care for themselves through their diet and lifestyle. It's a trend that is slowly being reversed, but in a somewhat dishonest way. I thank my stars every day that I am from a culture and family that still eats seasonal fresh foods and minimal processed foods.

Moral of the story: make informed decisions, examine food habits of your own culture and adapt to suit your circumstances, examine the source of your information, and educate yourself on how nutrition needs have been met for centuries in ancient cultures. And eat food because you like it, not just because you read somewhere that it's a "superfood". Whatever that means. Satisfying your taste buds matters!!

All that being said, this nut- and dairy-free chia pudding is excellent for adding variety to your breakfast or tea-time snack! It's filling and light, both.

Chia seeds, native to the Americas, are from a plant in the mint family. And while they don't make an excellent herb like mint does, they are a good source of essential fats and minerals like calcium and phosphorous. In fact the nutritional profile of chia is very similar to that of our good old sesame seeds... which are terrific ground into tahini and spread on toast with jam or honey. Or mixed into hummus, which is protein-packed and low-fat.

So chia is native to the Americas, and Native American tribes, Aztecs, and Mesoamerican people ate chia because it's what grew here! Not because they imported it from somewhere so they could eat a superfood and become hot and hip. Those folks definitely ate local!

Tukmaria is another seed that hydrates, swells, and gelatinizes similarly to chia, but the two aren't related. Tukmaria are seeds of the sweet basil plant whereas chia is from the mint family. Sweet basil is the same basil commonly known as Thai basil. Like all seeds, tukmaria seeds also are nutrient-dense and are a bit lower in calories than chia. They can be used the same way as chia, and this pudding would be excellent with tukmaria seeds!

Cherry Chia Pudding
Makes: 1 serving

- 3 tbsp. chia seeds
- 1/8 cup rolled oats
- 1 tbsp. desiccated unsweetened coconut (optional)
- 1 tbsp. Grade B maple syrup (optional)
- 1 cup water
- 1-1/2 cups red cherries
- 1/4 cup blueberries (or any other fruit)
  1. Blend until smooth the oats, water, and coconut and maple syrup if using.
  2. Put the chia seeds in a bowl and mix well with the blended oats mixture. Set aside for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up any chia lumps.
  3. Pit and quarter the cherries.
  4. In a jar, breakfast bowl, or any other container, add the blueberries. Add about half of the chia mixture, then add half of the cherries. Add the remaining chia mixture and top with the remaining cherries.
  5. Enjoy immediately, or leave overnight on the countertop or in the fridge for breakfast.

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