You will either love it or hate it.
Either way you will probably joke and sing a ditty about it.
And it’s not like it’s new or anything. Why, Oprah has already proclaimed it a “superfood.”
But, hey, it’s new to me (thanks, Ruhiyyih!) and, boy, am I excited about it—in large part because I’m a pudding girl and specifically, a tapioca pudding girl, which is what it most resembles. It has a slightly nutty flavor.
And it’s quite likely to be the healthiest pudding you will ever eat.
I’m referring to chia pudding. Made from chia seeds. (All together now: ch-ch-ch-chia!)
Yes, the same seeds that grow the “hair” on chia pets and chia people and, most recently, a chia Obama, make one heck of a pudding.
It turns out that the seeds are not just edible, but supremely good for you. High in antioxidants, fiber and protein, they have more omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds—which is really kind of awesome. Chia seeds were a main staple of the Aztec and Mayan diets, and eaten by Aztec runners because it gave them the stamina to run longer distances for longer periods of time. (Most of the runners to whom I’ve mentioned chia seeds already knew about it and many use it.)
When chia seeds are mixed with liquid, they absorb several times their volume in moisture and turn into a pudding consistency. When ingested, they promote a feeling of fullness. That makes them a dieter’s dream. They’re also ideal for diabetics because of the increased transit time through the digestive system and significantly slower rate of glucose absorption.
I eat it because it’s yummy. Also because it gives me a ton of energy.
Here’s how I make Vanilla Chia Pudding:
- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
- 2/3 cup of milk (use your favorite milk, cow or vegan. I do a mix of 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk and 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla hemp milk—the almond milk because I love it and the hemp milk because my nutritionist raves about it.)
- 1 capful of vanilla extract
- Sweetener to taste*
*To sweeten, I suggest maple syrup or agave with the caveat that you should always go light rather than heavy. If you’re diabetic or for whatever reason prefer a no-glycemic pudding, I highly recommend stevia (which is how I like it). My personal take on stevia: (a) once I got used to it, I really liked it (and even came to prefer it in tea and lemonade); and (b) again, you want to add less rather than more—just enough to have a sweet note in the background. Too much stevia and all you’ll taste is the bitter. Also, certain brands of stevia taste better to me than others. I really like Sweet Leaf and both the Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s house brands.
Mix everything in a bowl and leave it on the counter. The pudding will begin to thicken in about 15 minutes. You should do another couple good stirs at about the 5 and 10 minute marks.
You can refrigerate your pudding and eat it for a couple of days, though if you’re anything like me, the batch won’t even make it past that hour. Chia pudding, by the way, makes an ideal breakfast.
Chia seeds are pricey: between 13 and 20 dollars a pound at Whole Foods and health food stores. But you can find them online for about $5 a pound. A few of the sellers on Amazon seem to have lots of great reviews.
My clinical nutritionist told me not to eat more than 3 tablespoons of chia seeds a day. This is my understanding of his explanation why: “The body’s digestion blah blah fatty acids blah blah no more than 3 tablespoons a day blah.”
And no matter what my husband claims, I swear I’m not getting a kickback from the Chia Seed Mafia.
Please do drop me a line to let me know what you think of the pudding.