Truth be told, I was slow to warm up to chia seeds. As a “healthy” addition to smoothies and shakes, they didn’t hold much appeal for me.
But chia pudding? Different story.
I’ve always had a thing for tapioca pudding—I loved the taste and texture of tapioca “pearls” and took great comfort in its vanilla-infused starchy-sweetness.
Chia pudding achieves the same effect, but in a hypoallergenic fashion as it’s dairy-free and low in starch carbs. It’s my go-to when I crave delicious, creamy comfort.
Benefits of chia seeds
Chia seeds are a great on-the-go source of protein, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, or, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid that your body can’t make. Chia seeds can increase levels of ALA and the omega 3 fat EPA, but your body’s ability to convert ALA into DHA/EPA is very low. So, your best source for obtaining the omega 3 fat DHA is still from fish or grass-fed meats.
That said, chia seeds are an extremely nutritious food with energy-boosting properties.
If weight loss is a health goal, it can be beneficial to incorporate chia seeds into your diet. Because chia seeds are hydrophilic, they have a great capacity to absorb water, much like a sponge. If you soak chia seeds in water, you’ll see that it expands into a gel-like substance. Chia seeds are also high in soluble fiber (water-absorbing fiber), which contributes to feelings of satiety and fullness, helping stabilize blood sugar. In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that a sample of patients with metabolic risk syndrome (associated with heart disease and diabetes), who drank a chia seed-containing beverage for two months experienced weight loss—and a reduction in their blood glucose.
Unlike flaxseed, you don’t have to grind chia seeds. You can add them straight up to smoothies, shakes or yogurt. I enjoy them best in a pudding.
Making chia pudding can be like cooking the perfect roast chicken. Seemingly simple and straightforward, but the end result can be less than edible if you’re not mindful of the details.
I’ve tried to make chia seed pudding with water and mashed berries (a total bomb!). With coconut water (which resulted in a makeshift slurry). And with mashed fruit (the chia seeds did not expand). And without sugar (nope, chia pudding needs a little sweetener).
Chia Pudding with Raw Honey and Berries
This chia seed pudding is part of my summer clean eating cleanse, and it proved a big hit when I served it at a recent detox workshop that I gave!
16 ounces full-fat coconut milk (I like Native Forest coconut milk)
6 tablespoons chia seed
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon raw honey
1/2 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries, pureed in food processor, blender or mash by hand
Place coconut milk in a blender. One can of coconut milk is typically 13.5 ounces; just top off with 2.5 ounces water for 16 ounces. Add the raw honey.
Blend well—at high speed—until well combined.
Add the chia seed. Blend on low speed for a minute or 2 until mixed.
Pour chia seed-coconut milk mixture into a bowl. Let it sit out for an hour, stirring frequently—every 5-10 minutes.
After mixture thickens substantially, pour into a glass mason jar. Store in the refrigerator overnight.
Before serving: puree berries in a food processor (or mash by hand).
Apportion out the chia seed pudding. To each serving, add a light drizzle of raw honey and a spoonful of berries. Or top with fresh, sliced strawberries or a few blueberries, raspberries or blackberries.