As all good things related to healthy and delicious baking (which include chocolate, vanilla, amaranth, and myself. of course), chia, Salvia hispanica, originated in Mexico. It was a staple of the Aztecs and Mayas, who consumed it as a food, used it in religious rituals, extracted oil to make paint, healed disease and taxed the conquered peoples with it. It was known as an optimal food for endurance, and it's said that when needed, Aztec warriors would subsist on 1 tablespoon of chia seed a day (and nothing else).
Some of its uses, specifically the ones linked to the religious rituals (which for the Aztecs often included human sacrifices of many kinds) freaked the Spaniards out during the Conquest, and in their effort to convert the indigenous peoples to Catholicism, they forbade the cultivation of foods associated to their local religious practices and offerings. As time went by, the seed lost its place as a staple and remained consumed only in a few regions of Mexico and Central America. Mainly as a beverage called "Chia Fresca," prepared with water, lime juice, sugar and chia.
It wasn't until the Omega-3 vogue that started in the late 1990's, that chia was rescued from obscurity. Now it's grown commercially in Mexico, Central and South America, and mostly in Australia, and you can find it baked or added into a zillion products (like my fave drink: Kombucha).
Chia has been commercially marketed as the next big thing, and with good reason, as its rich content of Omega-3 (and its adequate omega-3:omega-6 ratio), dietary fiber, protein, vitamins (B complex mainly) and minerals, definitely make it a good ingredient to include in our diet (however, as with everything, don't exaggerate!).
Another important point is that chia contains lots of antioxidants, which--besides benefiting the person ingesting it--keep the seed from becoming rancid, so chia can be stored for longer periods than flax seed (the former Omega-3 king) and DOESN'T need to be ground in order to be digested.
With all its qualities, chia, a gluten free food, has been said to help prevent diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, depression, obesity, inflammation, constipation, and anemia, among others. It's supposedly also helpful during gestation and lactation (please always consult your doctor) and to strengthen the immune system. But I love it the most for its culinary property of gelling. So move over molecular gastronomists. Chia was there all along!
I just bought some Meyer lemons today, and as usual during this time of the produce year, nothing makes me happier in the cold season, than these sweet aromatic lemons. My friend, and former co-worker Emily, a native Californian, introduced me to them almost a decade ago, and since then, every year I get into Meyer frenzy and a nostalgia for my friend who moved back to the Golden State, the sun and Meyer lemons.
I love these citrus in curd, filling layers of coconut meringue cake, but I thought a healthier and still delicious version of a parfait-mousse-triffle-like thing with whipped coconut cream sweetened with coconut nectar might be worth a try.
The result was CRAZY good. Please try this no-bake dessert. Please, please!!!!
MEYER LEMON, CHIA AND COCONUT PARFAIT
The sweet lemony taste infuses the richness of the coconut cream in the most delicious way. I can't get enough.
I chose coconut nectar as the sweetener, because it's a low glycemic, all natural, unrefined alternative that pairs really well with the rest of the ingredients in this recipe. As I mentioned before, the sap of the coconut plant produces a sweet nectar that it's evaporated into coconut sugar. I recently found this unevaporated version and like it a lot (for more info please click in the link below).
- Vegan. Gluten, wheat, soy, nut, dairy and egg free (contains coconut)
- Super ingredients: chia, Meyer lemons, coconut and coconut cream
1 (13.5 oz) can organic coconut milk (NOT light!)
2 tablespoons coconut nectar, divided
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract4 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced (seeds removed)
2 tablespoons chia seed
1/2 cup cookie crumbs (graham cracker crumbs work well) or granola
1/2 cup unsweetened organic coconut flakes
1. The night before you make the recipe, refrigerate the unopened can of coconut milk.
|Notice the separation between coconut water (back) and cream (front)|
3. Whip the coconut cream, 1 tablespoon coconut nectar and 2 teaspoons vanilla in an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until thick and soft peaks form (it will look just like whipped cream). It will take a couple of minutes, but it will happen.
Isn't it awesome?
4. While coconut cream whips, mix Meyer lemon juice, the zest of 1 of the lemons, the chia seeds and the remaining 1 tablespoon coconut nectar in a small bowl or a measuring cup. Set aside for at least 20 minutes, so the gelling magic of the chia can occur.
6. Top crumbs with about 2 dollops of whipped coconut cream.
7. Add about 2 teaspoons Meyer-chia gel to the cream, and top with a bit more cream.
8. Top off with about 1 tablespoon coconut flakes, a pinch of lemon zest and crumbs.
Makes 4 individual parfaits.