Monday, July 28, 2014

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

 
    A few months back I got into using chia seeds. They are tiny seeds that are native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. They have long been used for their nutritional value and unique ability to turn liquid gelatinous. Well, my health conscious husband started using them a couple years ago. Mostly he would just add them to water or juice and drink it, but the thick drinks with the still partially crunchy seeds were never appealing to me. So, the package sat in my cupboard slowly being used by the one member of our family that has no problems consuming things just because they are good for him. (This is a person who drinks Super Food -a green powder that you mix with water and drink, and that in my opinion tastes like drinking mud from the bottom of the ocean. Yeah, he would drink this stuff religiously just because it's good for you!) Not me. It has to taste good for me to get anywhere near it, so I wasn't sold on the whole chia seed thing yet, even though it has a long list of health benefits (high in omega 3's, fiber, protein, high in antioxidants, 5 x more calcium than milk, rich in essential fatty acids, etc.).
    Over the last couple of years I have tried adding the chia seeds as a crunchy topping to pretty much everything and here are some of my favorites: mixed into cooked oatmeal, sprinkled on top of whole wheat toast with peanut butter (or Nutella), added to salads right before eating, and stirred into Greek yogurt. I also like adding them to smoothies and using them as a more nutritional replacement for poppy seeds in baked goods. But, it wasn't until I discovered chia seed pudding that I started buying the seeds in bulk from Costco (the cheapest/best place to get it) and going through it pretty quickly.
      My 8 year old daughter and I love to make a batch of this pudding and eat on it over a couple of days. Whenever we want a cool sweet treat, or something to satisfy that chocolate craving without feeling too guilty about it we get some of this pudding and it hits the spot every time. Now, there are a lot of chia seed pudding recipes out there. You can use any liquid you want (regular milk, coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc.) and any sweetener you want (sugar, brown sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.). You can even add fruit if you want to cut back on the sweeteners or cut them out entirely. The point is that chia seed pudding is anything you want it to be. It can be really sweet, or hardly sweet. It can be fruity or chocolatey or flavored with any extract you choose (i.e. coconut, almond, vanilla, rum, orange, etc.) The sky is the limit and you are only limited by your imagination. The only "rule" per say when making the pudding is to have the liquid to chia seed ratio in balance. Too many chia seeds and the pudding sets up thicker than peanut butter, and too little means you will be drinking your pudding instead of spooning it into your mouth. I like the ratio of 1 cup liquid to 1/4 cup chia seeds, but of course you can make it as thick or thin as you like. Try this ratio out for yourself and then you can adjust the recipe according to your texture preferences.
   OK, enough explaining and expounding on this wondrous stuff, let me show you how I make mine:

I like to build mine in a measuring up, but you can use anything from a bowl to a mason jar.  To my cup I add the sugar (I usually use white because I always have it in my pantry, but like I stated earlier, you can use any sweetener you like.)

Next comes the cocoa powder. This is where you are gettting all of your chocolate flavor so make sure this is a high quality ingredient. I prefer using Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder because it makes my pudding extra dark and rich tasting.

I just stirred these two ingredients together to reduce any cocoa powder lumps.

Then I add the milk (I like non-fat, but use what you like) and stir. The cocoa powder will float to the top, but don't worry about it. Microwave the whole thing for 1 minute (just enough for the liquid to get almost hot, but definitely not to boil).

After the mixture is warm, it will stir together nicely. (FYI you have just made homemade hot cocoa without all the preservatives and chemicals that you would find at the store.)

The final ingredients are the chia seeds. Remember 1/4 cup for ever 1 cup of liquid. I always make at least 2 cups of pudding at a time, so I added 1/2 cup of chia seeds to the mix. (I also make sure the measuring cup is almost overflowing with seeds. I don't skimp on this ingredient!)

The seeds will float on top, so just stir everything together and it will look like this:

Leave it on your counter to cool down to room temperature, and stir every half hour you think about it. (The seeds will still want to float to the top, so the top half of the mixture will set up first. The additional stirring helps assure that all the pudding is thickened properly.) I usually let mine sit out for an hour or two, stirring 2 or 3 times before putting in the fridge.

 This is what mine looked like after it cooled on the counter (about 1 1/3 hours). I just stirred it up. See how thick it is already? You could eat it as is, or if you want the seeds to soften a bit more and for your pudding to be cold (my preferred way of eating it), then let cover it and let it cool in the fridge for a couple hours, or better yet over night.

The only thing left to do after that is to eat it. (With a little dollop of sweetened whipped cream if you so desire.)

Is the pudding completely smooth like "normal" pudding? No. Is it still creamy, chocolatey and delicious like "normal" pudding? Yes! The texture of the seeds is something that not everyone enjoys. My daughter and I love it, but my other 3 kids could do without it. I have heard of people putting the pudding into the blender to make it smooth, but I've never tried it myself. If you choose to go that route please leave me a comment and let me know how it turns out!

This is a sweet treat that I don't feel guilty about indulging in whenever a chocolate craving hits (which, if you're me, is multiple times a day). :)
Here's the recipe: (If you try other variations that you love, please let me know. I'm always up for trying new recipes!)

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

1/4 cup sugar (any - to taste)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey's Special Dark) 
2 cups milk (any)
1/2 cup premium organic black chia seeds

Stir together the sugar and cocoa powder. Add the milk and microwave for 1 minute (or heat over low heat on the stove until the cocoa and sugar have dissolved). Stir in the chia seeds and let set of the counter until cooled to room temperature (about an hour), stirring every half hour or so. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Serve cold.

2 comments:

  1. Good sharing, for healthy purpose, Chia seeds offer the highest volume of Omega-3, as well as addition fiber (soluble and insoluble) along with vitamins or perhaps minerals you don’t usually get whenever you take sea food oil. Chia seeds giving you long lasting energy during the day moving in deep, restful sleep during the night time. May read this article about Chia seeds at:
    http://kidbuxblog.com/chia-seeds-is-the-most-extremely-versatile-superfood-and-vegetarian-supply-of-omega-3/

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  2. 3 Researches PROVE How Coconut Oil Kills Fat.

    This means that you actually burn fat by eating coconut fats (including coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 studies from big medical journals are sure to turn the conventional nutrition world around!

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