Have you tried chia seeds? I first had them sprinkled on a salad a couple years ago…they are delicious with a subtle nutty flavor, and they pair well with so many things. (They’re a great addition to smoothies, oatmeal, and muffins!) For the past year or so, I’ve been seeing chia seed pudding all over the place and I decided it was finally time to try it for myself.
I’m glad I finally gave it a try! If you’re not familiar with chia seed pudding, it’s delicious (try not to be put off by the texture – to give you an idea, it’s pretty similar to tapioca pudding) and incredibly easy to make (even easier than chocolate avocado pudding!). What you need to know is that when chia seeds are mixed with liquid they form a pudding-like gel, so your two basic ingredients are chia seeds and liquid (usually milk – you can use any kind of milk you like). For every 1 cup of milk, I add 3 tablespoons of chia seeds; this makes two servings and can easily be adjusted up to any number of servings you like (or down, if you just want to make 1 serving). I know, 1/2 cup of pudding might not seem like a very big serving…but it is incredibly filling!
Once you have the basic chia seed/liquid formula, you can add anything you like, such as sweetener, flavoring, and other mix-ins. I like to use stevia as my sweetener for this (to keep it sugar-free), but I also love it with maple syrup. As far as flavorings go, the sky really is the limit; here are a few ideas: vanilla extract (or have fun playing with any extract you like), cocoa powder, peanut butter, cake batter (maybe add a dash of butter extract, vanilla extract, and sprinkles on top), or cinnamon. For mix-ins, try things like fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, shredded coconut, or even a sprinkling of chocolate chips.
I like to take treats like this and come up with flavors based on classic desserts. The other day I made a chocolate peanut butter cup chia seed pudding that was to die for (didn’t get the chance to snap any pictures though!), and this version is just as good. It’s based on the flavors in a classic diner-style rice pudding: cinnamon and vanilla. It would also be great with a small handful of raisins mixed in, topped with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts. Really, you won’t know you’re eating something healthy.
And healthy it is. Did you know that chia seeds were used in Mayan and Aztec cultures to boost energy? Far be it for me to question ancient ways. (You can read more about chia seeds on Cooking Light.)
1 cup non-dairy milk, any kind you like (I like plain, unsweetened almond milk)
3 tablespoons chia seeds
1-2 packets stevia (more or less to taste)*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 small pinch sea salt
Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl; refrigerate until it reaches your desired thickness, stirring occasionally. (I usually chill mine about 2 hours, but overnight is fine.)
*Instead of stevia, you can use any sweetener you like in this recipe, such as maple syrup, honey, etc. Here is a guideline on how sweet 1 packet of stevia is: the amount of stevia in 1 packet measures 1/2 teaspoon, which is about as sweet as 2 to 3 teaspoons of regular sugar.