Super Food Dessert Recipe: Chia Seed Pudding with Cherries, Coconut, and Pistachios

chia seed pudding
If you've strolled the beverage aisles of your natural foods grocery store lately, you may have noticed new bottled beverages with suspended seeds strewn throughout the colorful liquid. Chia Seeds. If you ask around, you may be told they're the newest superfood, and a powerful antioxidant. A wonder seed. You may have also learned that, yes indeed, this is the same chia seed that sprouted the ever-popular Chia Pet of TV infomercial fame.

Now whenever everyone starts talking about a new, exciting superfood I tend to flee in the opposite direction. Remember when the whole world was reading Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections (even Oprah)? That made me an instant skeptic. I figured surely a book that everyone in America was reading wasn't a book that I would find to be a good read (full disclosure: I love The Corrections). I had a similar reaction with chia seeds. Sick of hearing all about their health benefits and listening to nutritionists discuss how they're the next big thing, I turned my back on this powerful little seed. Until just last week.

It's hard to fully turn your back because people are most certainly talking. The Today Show's Health Blog identifies chia seeds as the next trendy health food while Prevention Magazine deems them a "pricey new food craze" and Best Health Magazine explores if they're "worth the cash." I purchased them in bulk and got roughly 2 cups for $3, so I didn't find the cost prohibitive, but like all new food trends, there are surely folks capitalizing on the general public. The more research you do, even if you're a born skeptic like myself, the more you start to look at those teeny, tiny seeds in a new light. Then when you try them, you'll realize that they're strangely filling and energizing.

chia seed pudding
Left Side: Raw Chia Seeds; Right Side: Chia Seeds After Soaking Overnight

The short story with chia seeds is this: chia seeds are actually a species of flowering plant in the mint family. They're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is usually what you hear the nutritionists discussing. The seeds themselves can be eaten raw as a whole seed, packing a good punch of protein, fat and fiber (one-ounce has 4 grams protein and 11 grams of fiber!). But they can also be ground and used in baked goods or soaked, which makes them grow in size and become gelatinous in texture. The cool thing is that unlike flax seeds, you don't need to grind them first because they're completely digestible in whole form. I've started to use them just as I would any other seed, adding them to salads or sprinkled on yogurt with my morning granola. And, of course, there's pudding.

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Let's chat pudding. While I used almond milk in this recipe, you could use a splash of your favorite milk or soy milk and it'd be lovely. This is one highly adaptable recipe. The only thing you must do is soak the chia seeds because that's how the expand and become gelatinous, much like tapioca pearls. But the ways in which you can dress it up are endless: yesterday morning, I had a mango on hand, so I sliced up a mango and added some sliced almonds for a breakfast pudding. Or you could do a version with a dollop of cashew cream and crushed roasted hazelnuts. You add what you like. You marvel at how you kind of enjoy these odd little seeds. You think about making them again the next day. End of story.

pudding toppings
Laying out Topping Ingredients

Chia Seed Pudding with Coconut, Pistachio and Dried Cherries

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: n/a
Inactive Time: 5 hours-24 hours
Total Time: 5 hours-25 hours

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups almond milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla, if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
2 tablespoons honey + 1 tablespoon for drizzing on top
2/3 cup chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons chopped dried cherries
2 tablespoons chopped raw pistachios
2 tablespoons wide-flake unsweetened coconut

Preparation:
In a small bowl, combine the almond milk and the honey, vanilla, and ginger powder and whisk to combine. Add the chia seeds and orange zest and whisk vigorously to fully combine. Pour into a container, cover, and refrigerate at least 5 hours, and ideally overnight.

When ready to serve, stir well. Spoon into bowls and top with cherries, pistachios, and coconut; drizzle with a bit of honey.

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Other Chia Seed Recipes Around the Web:

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