Remember those chia pets that were made out of clay, that you would water, and little sprouts would grow out of the clay to look like hair or whatever? (I secretly wish I would have been the one with THAT million dollar idea!) Well they were called that because you were watering chia seeds, and growing chia sprouts!
Those little seeds are actually quite nutritious and versatile. Soaked in liquid, they can help keep you hydrated for long periods of time, earning them the claim to fame, “runners’ food.” Their gel-like texture when wet means that they’re great as an egg replacement when baking (read: you can veganize so many yummy baked treats it’s unreal). They take on any flavor you throw at them, oh and they’re packed with protein, fiber, and all the healthy omega’s you could ask for (yes, more so than mercury-laden fish).
One word to the wise – unless you plan to grind the seeds up (which I don’t particularly recommend), the pudding I’m about to describe will have a tapioca-like texture — meaning that it will be full of slippery little “pearls.” So if textures like that weird you out, try a very small batch at first.
So here it is as promised without further ado – chia pudding!
1/4 C chia seeds
1/4 C natural sweetener of your choice (maple syrup is kind of my go-to natural sugar, but if you’re into agave, raw cane sugar, honey, or whatever, they’d all be fine here. I fully expect to go on a little rant soon about why maple syrup is the healthiest and most balanced sugar; but use what you like for now)
1 C nut milk (coconut, almond, cashew, whatever. You could use regular cow’s milk or soymilk if you really wanted to, but I’m a huge fan of coconut, almond, and cashew milk. Hemp milk is supposed to be great for you, but literally every time I’ve bought it, it comes out so separated that it looks almost curdled, and that kind of grosses me out.)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 C shredded coconut, unsweetened (optional)
Mix the above and let sit 2-4 hours in the fridge, or overnight. This gives the chia seeds time to soak up the milk. This will be the construction of your basic pudding – now comes the fun part: mix-ins! Try the following variations.
***My favorite:*** thaw a bag of frozen red raspberries. Mash the berries and mix into the chia pudding before you let it set in the fridge. Heaven! (OK, I may love raspberries a bit too much.)
Mix in a handful of thawed, frozen berries (of any kind, or a mixture) into the pudding without mashing. This also works very well with cherries!
Add a sliced banana on top of your pudding (I do not recommend incorporating mashed banana into the pudding).
Add a handful of nuts on top just prior to serving (I love pecans plus a fruit for this).
Add some cacao nibs or cacao powder to the mixture before leaving it in the fridge (note that this adds a bitterness, and you may want a bit of extra sweetener. Also a little cacao goes a long way.)
I’ve not tried this one yet, but I think some PB2 in the basic mixture would be awesome, with or without cacao, and some banana on top at the end. Or strawberries, for a PB&J type thing.
Matcha powder in the basic mixture is also nice; it goes really well if you then mix in some whole raspberries.
A drop of lemon essential oil in the basic mixture is also phenomenal, and goes beautifully with any type of berry mix-in.
Let me know what else you come up with! Enjoy!