For someone who was raised to believe that “everything is bigger in Texas,” I am here to tell you that, in fact, the best things in life may be the smallest. Kisses. Sweet notes. Hugs. A dog’s wagging tail. Friends who call just to say they are thinking about you. And chia seeds.
It’s been three years since I started my love affair with chia seeds, but the more I know them, the more I love them. I add them to everything from smoothies to yogurt to salads to fruit salads and it’s no wonder, because they are super healthy, loaded with nutrients (with very few calories) and are incredibly versatile. To be specific, these itsy bitsy black seeds are filled with Omega-3 fatty acids, packed with fiber and protein, help build bone density and improve athletic performance, which we all want at any age.
I have shared plenty of chia seed pudding recipes with you over the years (this will be the fifth chia seed pudding recipe to date) and it continues to be a source of entertainment for me–trying to find the very best chia seed pudding recipe.
While I do like all of those I have already featured here, what I continue to struggle with is the ratio of chia seeds to liquid as everyone seems to have their own opinion–none of which I really like. The recipe ends up being just a tad too wet or too thick, so I am determined to perfect the ratio once and for all. In truth, it seems the big difference is whether you blend the chia seed pudding in a Vitamix or just let it sit in a jar or glass container overnight.
And so the testing began.
Over the last few weeks, I have made three different recipes using three different ratios and techniques, and while they were all good, only one ended up being what I had envisioned. I went with my two usual suspects–a recipe from Danielle Walker of the very popular paleo blog, Against All Grain, and another recipe from Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry.
What I concluded through this experiment was that I did not like blending the pudding in the blender with the chia seeds. But I do like using a blender to mix the almond milk (homemade, of course) with the cocoa powder or cacao powder, sweetener, vanilla bean and pinch of salt.
While many recipes call for honey or liquid stevia as the sweetener of choice, I prefer using a combination of dates and honey. Blending these two sweeteners with the milk adds flavor, texture and just the right amount of sweetness. Plus, they are both low-glycemic sweeteners which I enjoy.
So, now that I have mastered the technique of creating a magical chia seed pudding (using the ratio of 1 cup liquid to 1/4 cup chia seeds), I want to pass on the recipe I came up with taking what I liked about each recipe. Ironically, this concept is very similar to life because practice does make perfect. Chia seed pudding, that it.
Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
- 2 cups homemade almond milk
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
- 2 dates pitted
- 2 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup to keep it vegan)
- 2 tablespoons high-quality cocoa powder or cacao powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
In a blender (I use the Vitamix), add the almond milk, vanilla bean, dates, honey, cocoa and salt and blend well until smooth. This will take about 60-90 seconds. You may need to scrape the sides of the blender halfway to make sure everything is completely incorporated.
Pour the milk mixture into a bowl and sprinkle in the chia seeds, stirring well to blend.
Let the chia seeds soak up the liquid for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up any clumps of chia seeds and ensure the liquid gets completely absorbed.
Place in the fridge and let chill overnight or at least two hours. For extra flavor and fun, stir in a dollop of peanut or almond butter and top with sliced bananas and a sprinkle of hemp seeds for extra protein and crunch.
I made a fabulous parfait in a small jelly jar with layers of sliced bananas, dollop of peanut or almond butter, drizzle of honey, chia seed pudding, sprinkle of hemp seeds, sliced bananas, dollop of peanut or almond butter, drizzle of honey, chia seed pudding, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds for garnish.