Thursday, January 31, 2013

My purple Chia Pet

Chia pudding is one of those things like massaged kale salad, that all the cool kids have been making for a while now but I am only just getting around to.  I bought a small bag of chia seeds at Trader Joe's a few months ago, put them in the pantry, and forgot about them.  Last week I had some soy milk to use up and decided to give chia pudding a try.

Chia pudding could not be easier to make.  You combine the chia seeds with a liquid, mix it up really well, and leave it in the fridge overnight.  The chia seeds drink up all the liquid and transform into something a lot like tapioca pearls, with little crunchy centers.  If you like tapioca pudding, you will like chia pudding.  If you don't like tapioca pudding, you should probably stop reading right now.

I approached this project without a specific recipe or even a very clear idea of what I was doing.  First I mixed 1/4 cup of chia seeds with a cup of unsweetened soy milk in a Mason jar.  I left that in the fridge while I ate dinner, then went back and mixed it up again.  The chia seeds had massed into a solid clump at the bottom of the jar, and it took me a while to break that up.  I mixed it up really well so the chia seeds were more or less evenly dispersed throughout the milk, and put it back in the fridge.

Then I started to think.  This chia pudding, as is, was not going to taste very good.  I'd started out with sort of a vague idea of folding whole fresh blueberries into the pudding, but after looking at Gena's amazing chia tutorial and recipes, which is where I should have started in the first place, I decided that I should puree the blueberries and mix them in ASAP.  So  I did that -- pureed a cup of fresh berries in my mini-processor, and mixed them into the pudding really well.  I considered adding some stevia powder, but I am really trying to break my dependence on added sweeteners, so I put in some cinnamon instead.

The next morning I woke up to this:

This pint-sized Mason jar was solidly full of pudding.  It came out just the right texture, not too watery, not too firm.  It had kind of a subtle blueberry taste.  Most people would probably prefer it sweetened.

Verdict:  I will probably not make this again.  It was good, and would be refreshing on a hot summer morning, but it just wasn't filling enough to justify the fat and calories in my book.  My intention was for this to be a new breakfast option, but it's not enough breakfast for me.  It would be better in smaller portions as a dessert, and I don't eat dessert.

If you can handle added sweeteners and are looking for a light, healthy dessert, I recommend trying some of Gena's recipes.  The pumpkin one sounds especially good to me.  I will probably end up eating these seeds a tablespoon at a time, sprinkled into my rice and beans, for the omega-3's.  Actually the pumpkin pudding might be good without any sweetener at all -- maybe I'll make it next Thanksgiving.

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