Whilst linguistically speaking the cha-cha is "a ballroom dance with small steps and swaying hip movements, performed to a Latin American rhythm. e.g. his feet began to move in an unmistakable cha-cha", the chia seed, like the cha-cha originated in Latin America. Ha!
So why has the re-emergence of this tiny black, white and speckled seed caused so much excitement?
With good merit I say. Salvia hispanica L (aka chia seeds) originated in Guatemala and Mexico in the pre columbian and Aztec periods and are touted for their neutraceutical benefits. The chia seed is well credentialed for its position on the functional super foods' list and has every right to have made its way back onto the dining table.
Nutritionally speaking, they punch way above their weight with 1 tablespoon (12g) of chia containing a whopping 2500mg of the essential Omega 3 Alpha Linolenic fatty acid, 3g protein (including high levels of the lovely Tryptophan) and 4g fibre (hello healthy gut flora).
Omega 3 fatty acids are famed for their anti-inflammatory health benefits including their ability to balance blood serum lipid levels, reduce LDL and increase HDL cholesterol.
Chia seeds are full of phenolic antioxidants including Quercetin, Kaempferol and Myricetin which protect the body from free radical oxidation and reduce inflammation. They are rich in minerals such as Calcium, Phosphorous, Manganese, Iron, Magnesium and Zinc, which translates to healthy bones and teeth, improved immunity and haemoglobin synthesis.
The amino acid, Tryptophan, which is the precursor to one the 3 important mood modulating neurotransmitters, serotonin, is found in high quantities in chia seeds. 2 tablespoons contains 202mg (equivalent to 60g serve of turkey).
Chia seeds are hydrophilic, absorbing up to 10 times their weight in water. This makes them a fabulous hydrator and appetite suppressant. Their high protein and fibre content will ensure that adding them to any dish will decrease Glycemic load (meaning more balanced blood sugar levels.) Their high fibre content will increase gut transit time, assist with the beneficial maintenance of healthy gut flora and induce satiety. But wait there’s more.
Chia seeds are also an incredibly versatile cooking ingredient. Once you learn their magical culinary powers, you will be converted.
Chia seeds can be used to thicken stews, soups, & casseroles, as a base for warm and cold breakfast puddings, as a base for warm and cold dessert puddings, to thicken jams, mousses, custards, sauces & mayonnaises and as an egg replacer (1 tablespoon chia + 3 tablespoons water = 1 large egg).
I have been trying to wean my family off a well known (fairly healthy) breakfast cereal for some years now and I have danced many a cha-cha in the effort. It was the chia breakie pudding that finally converted them ALL at the same time. Alleluia! It is a pretty versatile dish and can be prepared as a raw dish or on cold, rainy days can be served warm. Start with the seasonal fruit, add the liquid base of milk, yoghurt, coconut or almond milk or coconut water. Next add the chia seeds and spices. Ready to break the fast.
The recipe for a delicious chia pudding can be found here
Chia seeds are a member of the mint family and may have an allergenic effect in people who are allergic to sesame seeds and/ or mustard seeds.
Delicious, nutritious, organic goodness to help you cane coastrek.
Athletes sometimes find it difficult to eat during an endurance event so it is important to ensure that your body is well nourished in the days leading up to the adventure. You can help your body during your training by ensuring every morsel that goes into your mouth is packed with nutritious goodness. That’s where the eye of the inca comes in.
The Eye of the Inca - launched especially for Coastrek is a delicious zesty bliss ball made with organic whole foods and packed with protein, omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, B vitamins, minerals and best of all a delicious zesty taste.
The Eye of the Inca is low GI for sustained energy release.
It contains protein for cell and muscle recovery & to keep you feeling satiated.
It has B vitamins to power ATP production which ultimately gets your muscles moving.
It is full of Minerals like Calcium & potassium to move those muscles and spare your bones and teeth which act as calcium reserves when your body aint getting enough.
It is packed with Antioxidants to stave off all those free radicals created with the seriously hard workout you are giving your bod.
and finally the Eye of the Inca is full of Deliciousness to keep a smile on your face and distract you from any minor aches and pains or desirous feelings of coastrek completion.
Thanks to everyone who came in for tasting - the final tweaking has led to a delicious Eye of the Inca.
You’ll want to walk longer so you can eat more!
These Blissful Balls of goodness are also ORGANIC.
Ingredients - all organically certified
sulphur free apricots, Inca berries, pepitas, coconut, pea protein isolate (protein powder) and buckwheat nibs
If you'd like to purchase, please head to the online shop
I have been pondering the characteristics of the perfect Christmas salad and have come up with the following list;
1. It must be delicious
2. It must look gorgeously festive
3. It must be foolproof
4. The ingredients can be prepped ahead and the salad thrown together an hour or two before the feast.
5. It must have allergen friendly options so you do not need to worry about starving those with challenged immunity.
Armed with my list, I scour my database for inspiration and it is hard to miss the prevalence of quinoa and its many incarnations. It is so versatile and can be teamed with an array of stunning ingredients. It retains its integrity whilst carrying its guests with equal amounts of humilty and charisma.
BINGO! We have lift off. Now what shall we add to the quinoa?
AND it can all be prepped ahead and stored in containers in the fridge until you are ready to throw it together.
Quinoa has really taken over from cous cous on the culinary front and as it is gluten free it is an incredibly handy pantry ingredient. It can also be stored, cooked in the fridge for a few days.
Quinoa is not a grain but a highly nutritious seed which unlike most plant sources actually contains all of the essential amino acids - so truly fabulous for vegetarians, coeliacs and all self respecting foodies.
Quinoa comes in red, white and black and sometimes mixed together as tricolour. Cooking times vary slightly between them but as a general rule the white tends to cook more quickly than the red and tricolour, so adjust accordingly.
NOW ON WITH THE SHOW
The sweet potato can be cooked in advance, the dressing made a day ahead, the herbs can be washed, dried and plucked a few days in advance. Just wrap in a clean Tea towel and store in a plastic bag or container in the crisper until needed. Even the pomegranate can be seeded a day ahead.
The full delicious salad recipe follows, so if you know how to cook quinoa go to it directly.
I do hope you enjoy it.
Conventional cooking method
Measure 1 cup quinoa and rinse well in warm water until water runs clear. Drain well and then soak in 1 cup water for 30 minutes (if using the cooktop method, rinse and soak in a small saucepan).
The reason we are draining the quinoa well is that we are cooking the quinoa using the absorption method and too much water will make it gluggy and then it's yuk!
Bring the quinoa and water to the boil, reduce to a simmer, remove the lid and cook for 10 minutes for white. After the 10 minutes, stir with a fork and check for the presence of "halos", a white ring that forms around each grain. If this is present then the quinoa is cooked. If there are some grains without haloes it does not matter, it will continue to cook a little once removed from the heat.
Transfer to a shallow plastic container and place in the fridge uncovered.
Thermomix cooking method
As in the conventional method measure, rinse and soak your quinoa (in a bowl)
After 20 minutes, transfer the quinoa to the thermomix basket and fill the bowl with 1 litre of water. Cook 11 minutes, aroma, speed 2. Stir well, transfer to a plastic container and store in the fridge until needed.
Herbed quinoa & sweet potato salad with christmas sprinkles
SWITCH THE FISH - OK it's Fishy Friday - here's a great little guide to help you choose sustainable seafood. My fave sustainables at the moment are Moonfish and Spanish Mackerel - both currently in season. Spanish Mackerel is delish dusted in a little seasoned flour and browned in the pan over low - medium heat, then finished off in the oven. Be careful not to overcook. Moonfish is divine cooked in banana leaves with herbs or in curries/ stews. Drooling. Enjoy. x
Creative cooking with veggie scraps
Since my Asian journey, I have become acutely aware (that is a level above aware, which is what I think I was before I went away) of how we in developed countries are so removed from our food...every part of it.
One of the most delicious meals we had, was prepared for us in a simple dirt floor kitchen from a "bit passed it looking" pumpkin, a piece of taro, some pumpkin leaves, sweet basil leaves and water. The resultant soup was warm and tasty. The pigs looked hungry the next morning so I reckon that particular corner in that particular hut WAS the compost heap.
Anyhow my compost heap is way too full of veggie scraps that I reckon we could probably eat really well from.
So now I rise to the challenge - I am cooking with (pre) compost - that would be the stalks, stems and leaves of veggies that are usually tossed. Some of them have amazing properties, leading to very pleasing outcomes.
Can you guess why my rhubarb is sooo red? And no it's not photo shopped.
Anyone interested in this type of recipe? Oh sooo much fun in the kitchen.
Whilst Asian food is often difficult for people with gluten intolerances, Cambodian and Laos food has an abundance of dishes that are gloriously soy and of course wheat free.
Laos in particular is a land locked country and has not been as open to trade as its neighbours. Food in Laos is still very traditional - ignoring for a moment, the French influence that has led to some marvellous fusion dishes and baguettes and croissants to die for, a fabulous culinary diversion after a month in Asia.
The recipes I am sharing however are the traditional recipes found in the hills and on the streets where gluten is still not a common ingredient.
The flavourings that are more popularly used are herbs and spices grown in the gardens that are literally everywhere.
The dishes we will be making, whilst divine, are quite simple and the ingredients accessible. I have made a big effort to ensure that the dishes we create in the classes will be dishes that feature on your menus for years to come. Some are special occasion and some you will cook more often.
I hurt my right hand and wrist quite badly on our volcano trek and then fell on it again trying to escape the leeches near the hill tribes. As a result I have been in a splint for 4 weeks and have cooked all of the dishes in the Thermomix.
Therefore, you can choose in the class whether to follow the traditional or more contemporary method.
Whichever way you choose - I guarantee you will be satiated. Scroll down for recipes and details of the apron give-away.