Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Low carb "Bubble tea"
Bubble tea is the divisive issue of my food life. I have had friends who, on first taste, spit it out and look at me as if I were trying to poison them. Then there are people like my mom who cannot be trusted to leave my beverage alone if I run to the bathroom for two seconds, even if I'd brought her a cup of her own. True story.
In case you are unfamiliar, the base for bubble tea is tea+tapioca pearls+sugar+(optional cream)=HEAVEN. But, you know, tapioca is a starch, sugar is sugar. This is one of those indulgent foods even when you are not on a diet. But I bring you hope! Enter chia seeds.
First encountered by those of us 90s kids through the famous/infamous/laughable Chia pet (I cherished a Homer Simpson chia pet that I received at a white elephant exchange), chia seeds are here to save the day. When soaked, they expand to at least 5 times their size (one source says they taken on ten times their weight in water) and have a gelatinous coat that mimics bubble consistency nicely. As an added bonus, the seed provides some crunch/pop. On the nutrition side, they are very healthy, providing protein, omega-3, and lots of fiber plus a variety of other nutrients. But really, it's the texture that I love, and it ends up being WAY cheaper than bubble tea even though chia is itself not that cheap--keep in mind that one tablespoon= a GIANT serving (pictured above). Winning.
To prepare, I just soak in water so I can make up my mind about what beverage to pair it with the moment I want to drink, but chia happily expands in coconut and almond milk, so I imagine it expands in coffee, tea, and fruit juices. The world is your chia oyster.
In the event you want to dabble in chia before committing to a pricey bag, many stores with bulk bins stock chia. Trader Joe's and Costco do provide reasonably priced chia, but my Sprouts puts it on sale often enough at a lower price than either of those two.
This is not even a recipe, either. Surely a bona fide recipe requires more effort.
1 T chia (one-half ounce)
1 packet stevia
1/2 c water
Mix together and put in fridge for 5 hours to overnight. Scoop amount desired into cold or hot beverage of choice. Will probably expand a little more. Stir. Sip. Smile. Caveat: needs the big straws due to occasional clumping.
Basic nutrition: 4.5 g fat, 2 g protein, 1 net carbs, 5 grams (!) of fiber and provides a fair amount of manganese and phosphorous.