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Cookbook review: 'Chia Crazy' puts the spotlight on an ancient superfood

POSTED January 7, 2016 1:10 a.m.
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CHIA CRAZY: Clean Eating with the World’s Greatest Superfood,” by Cherie Schetselaar and Britney Rule, Familius, $19.95, 136 pages

Up until a few years ago, one could be forgiven for thinking chia’s only use was as green sprouty hair on kitschy terracotta figurines.

However, in their new book, “Chia Crazy: Clean Eating with the World’s Greatest Superfood,” mother-daughter bloggers and cookbook authors Cherie Schetselaar and Britney Rule give a handy guide to the variety of ways this ancient superfood can be used to amp up the nutritional value of day-to-day recipes

Like their previous books, “Grain Crazy” and “Quinoa Crazy,” “Chia Crazy” is a handsomely put together volume with plenty of thoughtful touches.

That includes full-color photos for most of the recipes and color-coded chapters, which make it easy to dive into. And with sections like “Chia 101” and “Clean Eating 101,” it’s written at a level where people just starting out in the world of healthy cooking won’t feel at all intimidated.

What’s more, Schetselaar and Rule do a fantastic job of selecting recipes that families will actually want to try, making the sometimes difficult transition to clean eating that much easier.

In fact, some of the recipes seem downright decadent, with fresh fruit, whipped coconut cream, peanut butter, dark chocolate and honey among the ingredients that frequently pop up.

There’s even an entire section on drinks and smoothies, including standouts like an Almond Joy smoothie and a creamy melon slushie.

Beyond just a collection of recipes, “Chia Crazy” works as an introductory guidebook to the principles of using chia — grinding it to use as a thickening agent or turning it into a gel for drinks or as an egg substitute, etc. — so that home cooks will be able to experiment on their own with ways to incorporate this ingredient into their families’ diets.

Little factoids, helpful hints and even historical details about chia’s uses among ancient civilizations like the Aztec and Maya round things out, helping to make “Chia Crazy” probably the only book about chia that most family cooks will ever need or want — and a perfect companion to Schetselaar and Rule’s other books.

*****

Vanilla Chia Pudding

Serves: 2

I am a big fan of both tapioca and rice pudding, and this treat reminds me of a combination of them. This pudding is quick and easy to make, and it would be a great breakfast, snack, or dessert. You can enjoy it as soft serve after cooling it for an hour, or you can chill it for four hours or overnight for a thicker pudding. We loved every bite of it!

½ cup canned coconut milk (full fat)

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

2 tablespoons maple syrup

¼ cup chia seeds

1 cup fresh (or frozen and thawed) raspberries

In a mason jar, combine the coconut milk, almond milk, syrup and chia. Put on the lid and shake the jar several times to evenly distribute the seeds.

Place the covered jar in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Take the jar out of the refrigerator and shake or stir. Cover again and place back in the refrigerator. It will be ready to eat as a soft serve after another 30 minutes of refrigeration. If you want it to be thicker, wait at least 4 hours or chill overnight.

Once the pudding has reached your desired consistency, top with raspberries and devour.

— “Chia Crazy,” by Cherie Schetselaar and Britney Rule

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