I am “of a generation” that grew up realizing Christmas was just around the corner when that magical info-mercial took to the television airwaves. Cha-cha-cha-Chia! Yes, Chia-pets, those crazy terra cotta animal head shapes that, once planted with chia seeds, sprouted hair-like grass. Available only during the holidays, so that you could be “that guy” who brought a grassy head to the office Secret Santa party. The 70s were a strange and bewildering time. Maybe it was the drugs. Or the fringe. It never occurred to us to eat those seeds, but now those same ancient seeds are the hottest superfood around.
I have to be honest with you. I was pretty skeptical about chia seeds. Not their nutritional value–they are definitely in the Super Food category, with tons of fiber, protein and omega-3s. As a matter of fact, they have the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids of any known plant source. These little seeds are nutritional powerhouses, I tell you.
So it wasn’t their content that bothered me. I just couldn’t get past their…well…texture. Chia seeds have the ability to soak up 10 times their weight in liquid, forming a bulky gel. This makes them a terrific natural thickener and their high fiber content keeps you full a long time. But, like tapioca, they also have a definite texture, and I wasn’t sure I could get beyond that. But this journey is all about learning, right? So we got ourselves some pesticide-free chia seeds and dove into the realm of all things chia, starting with what looked like the slimiest of all recipes–chia puddings.
Our first attempt at a chia pudding was okay, but not great–we made a mocha pudding with soy milk, raw cacao, some powdered coffee and a bit of maple syrup. Tom’s reaction? It didn’t have enough chocolate flavor, but he thought he might be able to get used to it after having it a few more times. Hmmmm. Not the enthusiastic endorsement I like to have! If I’m going to post a recipe, it has to be great, not so-so.
So I tried again with some fresh raspberries from the farmers market and some vanilla flavored yogurt and soy milk. The result? A hit! This no-cook pudding was creamy, rich with vanilla flavor and studded with lovely, tart raspberries. A keeper, for sure! Yes, the texture has a tapioca pudding-like thing going on, but it isn’t bad, and the seeds are actually smaller than blackberry seeds, so they aren’t SO noticeable.
One of the beauties of this recipe is that you mix everything together the night before and can take it to work for lunch. Or have it for a quick breakfast on the run! This lovely pudding was my lunch for the day and I was surprisingly full all afternoon. While it is genuinely no-cook, it does take time (several hours) for the chia seeds to do their thing, so you do need to plan a bit ahead.
I used a vanilla-flavored yogurt for our pudding because that is what we had on hand, but you could use plain Greek yogurt and add vanilla bean paste. Or you could go vegan and just use a vegan milk, leaving the yogurt out altogether. The yogurt did have some sugar in it, so our version was not sugar-free, but you can adjust that as you like.
What about you? Do you make chia recipes? What works best for you?
Raspberry Vanilla Chia Pudding (makes 2 half-cup dessert servings or one meal-sized serving)
- 2 ounces vanilla flavored Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup soy milk (any milk will work here)
- 1 heaping tablespoon pesticide-free chia seeds
- 6-8 fresh raspberries, washed
- Combine all ingredients except berries in a small bowl and blend with a whisk until smooth.
- Carefully stir in berries.
- Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
- Stir well before eating.