If you haven’t joined the chia seed movement yet, this simple pudding with endless variations may be the impetus you need to get started.
With a prep time of less than five minutes the night before, chia pudding makes my mornings smoother, and solves the issue of getting the kids nutritiously fed without making a complete mess in the kitchen.
This recipe is a family affair at our home. My husband takes it to work in a mason jar, and it’s a hit with both my toddlers, who enjoy the pudding texture plus their favorite colorful toppings piled on.
Chia (pronounced CHEE-ahhh) is an edible seed that comes from a desert plant and was eaten by the Mayans and Aztecs.
Chia seeds have been growing in popularity for years. ABC News referred to chia seeds as the “It” food of 2013, and you can’t venture down aisles of a health food store without seeing a proliferation of products that contain chia seeds.
Chia seeds are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. They are considered a superfood because of their numerous benefits, which include the following:
• A great source of omega 3 fatty acids
• High in antioxidants
• A complete protein source, containing all 8 essential amino acids
• Packed with iron and calcium
The seeds are packed with fiber, a whopping 10 grams in 2 tablespoons. This is one-third of the daily recommended intake of fiber, making you feel full and satisfied while aiding digestion.
Unlike flaxseeds, which are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and minerals, chia seeds do not need to be ground to assimilate their nutrients.
Chia seeds enhance hydration and retention of electrolytes because they absorb many times their weight in water.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition stated that chia seeds can lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels while increasing HDL, or “good” cholesterol.
The Cleveland Clinic concluded, “Chia seeds are a safe and effective product for the treatment of cardiovascular risk factors.” The clinic noted that patients on blood thinners should not eat chia seeds.
The evidence on chia seeds and weight loss is still limited and according to many experts, more studies are needed.
For busy people, this pudding can be put in a mason jar or any other air-tight container so it is portable and business-meeting neat. Kept refrigerated, it can last four to five days.
To spice it up for the kids, I’ll give them the option of choosing their toppings in the morning. I have two to three toppings pre-cut and ready to go. It’s like picking ice-cream toppings but healthier. Sometimes, I put the topping in fun, colorful bowls just to make it interesting.
More Than Just Breakfast
Why stop with pudding? You can also add chia seeds to your smoothies, sprinkle them on salads, soups, cereals, oatmeal, or yogurt, and mix them into practically any baking recipe (for example, brownies, cookies, and the like) to get an added nutritional boost throughout the day.
Your kids won’t even know the difference if you sprinkle them into their favorite foods, but their bodies will thank you. Get creative with your toppings, enjoy, and be well!
Christine Beal Dunst is a marketing and strategy consultant and freelance wellness, nutrition, and lifestyle writer who lives in Brooklyn. She has a master’s degree in Public Administration in Health Policy and Management, is certified in Pilates Mat, and is enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Chia Seed Pudding Recipe
Makes 1 serving
• 3 teaspoons chia seeds
• Three-fourths to 1/2 cup unsweetened raw, organic almond, cashew, or coconut milk
• 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Use an air-tight container or mason jar to mix or shake the contents. Then simply leave in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least three to four hours). You can add any of the toppings below to the base when you make it at night, or toss them right on top in the morning.
Go for organic and local if possible
• Fresh fruit (my favorites are chopped strawberries, blueberries, apples, mango, and bananas)
• Citrus fruits like grapefruit, blood-red oranges, or even lemon zest, to add some zing
• Shredded coconut
• Pistachios (or any other nut of your choosing to increase the protein punch)
• Avocado (plus lemon zest, pistachio, and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt is my favorite combo for a more savory treat)
• Chopped mint (great with the strawberries or citrus)
• High-quality organic granola
I’ve noticed that due to the vanilla-inspired base and fresh toppings, I don’t need another sweetener; however, my kids love maple syrup with their pudding.
If you crave extra sweetness, I encourage you to experiment with a teaspoon of the following: high-quality maple syrup, raw cacao for a chocolate kick, or raw honey, preferably local. A dash of cinnamon may also satisfy your sweet tooth.