Until a friend of mine posted a recipe on Pinterest for chia smoothies, I had no idea that there were such things as chia seeds. I knew of chia pets, but I didn't know that they were named after the seeds that grew their 'magical hair'. I wasn't weirded out that you could eat the hair follicles of those strange little pets, but I was surprised that I hadn't heard of them as a food item before. I was intrigued and did some internet searching on how to use them in a cooking/eating way and apparently there are lots of internet folk raving about the health benefits of chia seeds.
So the next time I found myself at the organics store I bought a little bag of chia seeds to try out in my cooking. I tried it in couscous and smoothies, and it didn't seem to make any difference in taste or texture to either (given that I put berries with seeds in my smoothies anyway).
And then I discovered this recipe for Vanilla Chia Pudding...
Now almond milk isn't something you would find in my house (let along home-made almond milk) and neither is stevia. I do have milk, splenda (or regular sugar - I can do either), vanilla, and of course those chia seeds! So I substituted the almond milk with my regular milk, put in the seeds, a bit of vanilla and some splenda (I'm not so much of a measurer) and shook it all up. I let it sit 10 minutes like the recipe says and then shook it again. The seeds seemed to be clumping all together and settling at the bottom of the shaker, but I did as I was told and gave it another shake before putting it back in the fridge. It did end up quite clumpy, but after breaking up the clump of seeds and mixing in some dried cranberries it tasted really good! The next time I made it, instead of shaking, I stirred and then shook it a few times (after 10 minutes or so and then again after another 10 minutes or so) and then poured it into individual serving dishes to set. One of the things I really like about it (and something that will totally put a lot of people off) is the texture. The seeds get this squishy film around them that reminds me of eating tapioca pudding as a child. :)