As a child of the late ‘70s and ‘80s, I grew up watching old sitcoms on DFW Channel 39, back in the days when we had five channels, one of which was a shopping channel, so that didn’t really count for a kid. Channel 39 was the Dallas/Fort Worth station that entertained me in the hot summers with shows like Get Smart, Green Acres, Hogan’s Heroes, and Petticoat Junction. I still remember the commercials, which were mostly for for injury lawyers and…chia pets. Ah, simpler times.
Anyway, I now know that chia seeds are awesome nutritional powerhouses, used since the time of the Aztecs as a protein, fat, and fiber source. What makes chia seeds so interesting, in my opinion, is that they can absorb 5X their weight in liquid. This makes them a great thickener, and a way to make an easy, healthy, gelatin-free pudding-type snack or meal. Here is an article on drweil.com that gives a great overview of chia seeds, including explaining their health benefits, some of which are:
- Very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds; In fact, it has an ideal Omega 3: Omega 6 ratio
- So rich in antioxidants that the seeds don’t deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid, and they do not have to be ground to make their nutrients available to the body
- Good source of complete protein for vegetarians and vegans
- Good source of healthy fats
- An excellent source of calcium, magnesium, and iron
- Low on the Glycemic Index with a score of 1 (that is pretty darn low!)
Here is a nutrition label for two tablespoons of raw chia seeds (Nutiva Brand, which is what I buy).
There are a lot of ways you could go about making chia pudding, but I thought I’d share my current favorite with you here. I have to warn you, it make strike you as odd at first, but this makes a tasty and filling breakfast or dessert. It’s more like tapioca pudding than Jell-O type pudding, but, the consistency is oddly amusing.
Use this base and add what you like!
Simple Chia Seed Pudding Formula
- 1/2 cup coconut milk beverage (or milk of your choice; I don’t do dairy, but perhaps you do; If you use almond milk or skim milk, reduce just a tad because it’s thinner)
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/2 cup fresh blueberries (or fruit of your choice)
- Optional: 1-2 tablespoons preferred sweetener (I would go with pure maple syrup, fruit juice, or coconut sugar if you add sweetener; in my opinion, honey is too clumpy for this)
- Combine ingredients in a small bowl (cereal bowl sized), cover, and chill 2-3 hours or overnight.
If I’m eating for a snack, I don’t add anything further. If I’m eating for breakfast, I top with a sliced banana, shredded coconut, or, whatever strikes my fancy to up the calories a bit.
You could really go crazy with this formula – here are some ideas I have:
- Use no fruit and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder for a chocolate pudding
- Use no fruit and 1-2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, then, add a sliced banana after it’s ready for a banana pudding
- Use tropical fruits like mango, papaya, pineapple, or, any variety of berries
- Use raisins, Craisins, or other dried fruit
- Add chopped nuts
- Sprinkle with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla powder
See? The options are limitless – go crazy, and just try to stop yourself from singing, “Ch-ch-ch-chia!” while you do. It’s impossible.
For the exact recipe without sweetener, using Silk Pure Coconut milk. I usually use Trader Joe’s coconut milk in the can, but that wasn’t available in the nutritional database, sorry!