Gluten free, sugar free and vegan
Whenever I think of chia seeds I think of my last year of high school, when they had just become all the rage. Going to an all-girls school it was almost normal to see girls walking around with water bottles full of ridiculous things like cucumber slices and lemon rind. But when chia seeds started being added as well? I honestly thought they were fish eggs for about six months. I thought they were the grossest thing ever. Like umami plums or quinoa, I associated them with superfood fads and mud face masks and beautiful people like Miranda Kerr. I never wanted to try them in any shape or form if I could avoid it.
But these pesky little seeds are everywhere! Blended into smoothies, sprinkled on porridge, used as vegan eggs, added to bread, muffins, cakes, they are literally taking over the world. I kept reading about chia pudding in places like here and here, and it actually sounded kind of cool. More than just that, I couldn’t believe anything would be that easy to make and not taste like…well fish eggs mixed into milk. I couldn’t find the source of the chia pudding idea, but I first read about it on Pastry Affair and used that as an idea starter. The first pudding I made I got a bit obsessed with the chia seeds. I stirred in one tablespoon to half a cup of milk and waited. Then I poured in another one, waited about 30 minutes, poured in another one, poured in a teaspoon more, and then left it overnight. People, I overdid the chia seeds. It still tasted ok, if a little thick, but about half an hour after I ate it, the seeds expanded in my stomach and I literally couldn’t get off the floor. I was rolling around, moaning, for about an hour. Don’t eat too many chia seeds! They can absorb 9 times their weight in liquid and lemmee tell you that’s like your whole stomach.
Chia seeds have some pretty impressive credentials if you haven’t ever heard of them before. They are super high in dietary fibre and things like Vitamin C and Iron. They turn into a gel when mixed with liquid which makes them ideal for making pudding, because you don’t need any heat or gelatine or eggs to thicken it. They are naturally gluten free, and they can be used to make recipes vegan and dairy free. They have literally no taste at all which is kind of unnerving…but good as well. When dry they’re kind of gross to eat, even though they are a popular sprinkle for cereal and porridge, because they get stuck in your teeth and start absorbing your saliva! But soaked they become most similar to something like tapioca pudding.
I watched a really disturbing American show on chia seeds, where fat women drank three heaped tablespoons mixed with water to “curb their outrageous appetites”. Sorry if you also drink chia with water, I’m sure a little bit is good for you here or there, but the thought of chia slime clogging up your stomach to stop you eating is so gross to me. Eeeew.
This pudding today is a really simple strawberry chia pudding. It’s more of a starting point for what ever direction you want to take it. Lots of people seem to like this for breakfast so there isn’t any sugar in the beginning recipe, but depending on how sweet your fruit is you might want to blend in some honey or maple syrup (or sugar, of course). As well as that, you could get creative with the milk as well. Coconut milk would go well with blended banana or berries, or almond milk could make a lighter alternative. Some people stir in melted chocolate, or cocoa powder and honey, or cinnamon, vanilla, fruit compote, as you can see there are many different ways to take this pudding. Just remember to be patient, and not stir in three more tablespoons than directed.
Strawberry Chia Pudding: Adapted from this recipe:
1 cup soy milk (or almond, coconut, or actual milk)
450g (1 pound, 2 punnets) washed and hulled strawberries
1 tsp vanilla extract (good quality, you’ll be able to taste it clearly)
3 tablespoons chia seeds
Blend strawberries, vanilla and milk until completely smooth and chunk free. Stir in the chia seeds well. Pour into 2-4 cups depending on serving portion and chill overnight. Stir after about an hour well to break up clumps, and again before serving. Serve with a drizzle of honey or more cut up fruit.