Super Chia Smoothies
Smoothies are a great way to increase your intake of a variety of fantastic nutrients. Here is a quick list of some of my favourites, perfect for whizzing up pre-school-run drinks for your active little ones or as a post-workout shake for yourself.
Berries – fresh or frozen, any combination of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackcurrants will taste great and boost vital antioxidants.
Banana – rich in potassium, fibre and energy, this ensures the smoothie will keep you satisfied for a couple of hours.
Plain, live or Greek yogurt – full of calcium, protein and healthy bacteria for the gut.
Cold-pressed oils – flaxseed, hempseed or a blend such as Udo’s oil. These assist the metabolism and aid fat loss, plus they’re great for healthy digestion and stronger hair and nails.
Recently, I’ve tried a new addition to breakfast smoothies: the small but mighty chia seed.
Chia seeds are not a grain and are therefore gluten free, plus they’re rich in calcium, omega-3 fats and antioxidants.
The word Chia means strength in Mayan and while these tiny silver and grey seeds may look like bits that fell off your Christmas decorations, they can provide energy, enhance weight loss and improve hydration levels. Not bad for a tiny seed!
Chia seeds don’t have a strong flavour, which means you can add them to both sweet and savoury dishes. They’re really easy to incorporate into your diet, however, they are still a premium product and quite expensive, so use a small amount every day for the best health benefits.
If you pop plain chia seeds into your mouth and chew you’ll notice something strange happens; the seeds start to absorb liquid from inside your mouth which gives a strange sensation of expansion – or like eating small bits of tapioca pudding! The tiny chia seed can absorb around 8-9 times its weight when soaked and forms a sort of gel which is great for use in baking or for thickening savoury dishes.
I’ve tried a couple of different recipes this week with these nutritious seeds and the first is currently my favourite!
Chocolate Chia Power Smoothie
In a glass of soya milk (I use plain, unsweetened), add 2 teaspoons of chia seeds and leave in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, simply pour it into your blender with a ripe banana, a teaspoon of cocoa power (raw cocoa powder is available from all good health food stores), a teaspoon of agave sugar or agave nectar.
The chia seeds will have swelled overnight and give the smoothie a sort of soft, quilted texture. If you’re not keen on this texture, simply pop all the same ingredients in the blender but add the raw chia seeds to the mixture, whizz up, then drink immediately.
By using soya milk, or other non-dairy option, this smoothie becomes vegan, and is suitable for children and toddlers allergic to dairy produce. I would introduce youngsters to chia seeds gradually as the whole seeds continue to absorb water inside the body and can therefore reduce appetite and aid weight loss – great for adults but not so desirable in little ones.
Brilliant Berry Chia Smoothie
My kids prefer berry flavoured smoothies to chocolate ones (they don’t get that whole chocolate-peanut butter-coffee thing yet!) so I made this for them using Greek yogurt instead of soya milk, a mixture of frozen raspberries with fresh strawberries and blueberries, banana, a little pineapple juice (not from concentrate) to sweeten and then added the chia seeds just before blending.
Depending on how early you have to get up before school and how well your kids eat in the mornings, for some this may be enough to keep them going til school breaktime, for others they’ll need some wholewheat toast or cereal as well. Personally, I’m not a fan of boxed cereals so would recommend plain porridge oats made into a museli style breakfast. I’ll save the great cereal debate for another post!
Smoothies do keep if you wish to make them the night before to save time in the mornings, however, the colour may change (bananas give a brownish-grey tint after a while) or they may separate and not look so appetising.
Basically, chia seeds can be added to any flavour smoothie to increase the nutrient content and offer health benefits. Try adding to peach or mango flavoured blends for a burst of sunshine, perfect for breakfast or hitting that mid-afternoon slump.
As chia seeds swell up when placed in liquid overnight, you can make delicious thicker desserts by making slightly less liquid smoothies then refrigerating overnight (or all day if making dessert for the evening).
I bought chia seeds from my local health food store, Barannes, in Jersey (Channel Islands). Click here to visit their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Barannes